Did Male and Female Dinosaurs Have Different Physical Characteristics? Study Says Yes

posted: 04/23/15
by: Discovery.com Staff
The male Stegosaurus tries to impress the female, by showing off his plates.

The iconic Stegosaurus is known for its large size and distinct rows of staggered plates along its back. It was widely accepted that specimens with different plates represented different species of the large herbivore; some had short, wide circular plates while other had taller, ovular plates.

Evan Saitta, an undergraduate researcher at Bristol University, is the first to provide compelling evidence that the physical differences in plate size corresponded to gender, a differentiation known as sexual dimorphism.

Saitta challenged traditional thinking after six consecutive summers excavating a Stegosaurus mjosi 'graveyard' in Montana. After examining several different specimens, Saitta was unable to locate any other skeletal characteristics that would have indicated a difference in species - apart from plate size. Sexual dimorphism is the most plausible explanation for the variations in place shape and size.

"As males typically invest more in their ornamentation, the larger, wide plates likely came from males. These broad plates would have provided a great display surface to attract mates. The tall plates might have functioned as prickly predator deterrents in females," posits Saitta.

Click here for more information from Bristol University

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