News about a new hypothesis that some dinosaurs were "humped."
Below article from The Sunday Times (London) -- copyright acknowledged.
This Megalania page has been visited times since April 13, 1998.
Copyright 1998 Times Newspapers Limited
April 12, 1998, Sunday
Dinosaurs were like Camels
By Sean Hargrave
SCIENTISTS may have to think again about what some dinosaurs looked like. An American researcher claims that some species may have had a resemblance to today's camels or bison , writes Sean Hargrave.
Jack Bailey from Western Illinois University says scientists have the wrong impression of what 28 types of dinosaur looked like. Instead of fan-like "sails" running down their backs or around their necks, he claims many sported humps.
Bailey says the humps served the same purpose they do today - to store fat reserves and protect a large animal from the heat of the sun.
He struck on the idea two years ago when he saw a bison skeleton and noticed that the bones behind the neck which support its hump were similar to those of some dinosaurs.
"They were exactly the sort of spines you find in spinosaurus or ouranosaurus but it has always been presumed that they had sails," he says.
The bones were different to those found on dinosaurs that almost certainly had sails. Rather than being thin and pencil-like, the bones of some dinosaurs were thicker and slightly larger at the end further away from the body. They also had roughened edges, rather than the smoother ones found on dinosaurs with sails.
"It all points to the bones being used to support humps. That is why they are thicker and why they are roughened from where muscle and ligaments have been attached," says Bailey.
"Also, these bones are often thinner in the middle which is consistent with bones that have been secured either end and borne a considerable weight, causing the centre to compress and wear.
Humps would have been extremely useful to dinosaurs, he says. "We know that many dinosaurs were migratory. They lived in herds that would consume huge amounts of food and so they would need to move from one source to another. For such animals a hump packed with fat reserves would be essential to provide energy for the journey between feeding grounds.
"The Cretaceous period, when many of these dinosaurs lived, was one of the hottest times in the past 500m years. So there were these huge animals that could easily have overheated in tropical conditions. If you compare their volume to the skin area where they could let heat escape, you see that they must have had another means of protecting themselves from heat. A hump would have been perfect, allowing heat to be concentrated in an area where thin membranes would have allowed it to dissipate."
If Bailey is correct, palaeontologists will have to reconsider the accepted appearance of 28 types of dinosaur that lived up to 100m years ago.
Researchers have always been hampered in their attempts to visualise what dinosaurs were like because they only have bones to work with and no soft tissue. It is for this reason, says Bailey, that it has been widely accepted that the spinal bones growing out from a dinosaur's back were used to support a sail.
These served the purpose, it is presumed, of warming up the animal's blood early in the morning. The same sail could then allow heat to escape during midday if shade were found. If there was no protection from the sun, however, the sail was useless. Bailey postulates that this led some dinosaurs to develop humps that would store energy to power the animal while the sun was still warming it up, yet protect it from overheating later in the day.
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