STL Science Center

STL Science Center

28 January 2012

Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes

Depending upon the source there are at least two popular models for the head of Majungasaurus. The two versions of the head only differ in external details of course, the skull itself is not hotly debate because there are pretty reliable and high quality specimens. It's all the knobs and gouges and pits in the skull that inspire different adornments in the illustrations. The illustration above, which was featured in Jurassic Fight Club, by the way, shows one theory of the ornamentation of the Majungasaurus skull which is still thought of as potentially accurate. Looking like a giant turkey, Majungasaurus prowls the night with a waddle dangling off of his nose. Not too scary an idea honestly and seemingly senseless, but there is much about this dinosaur which appears somewhat senseless so there is no point dawdling on this one point. Id anything, it probably would have been use as a signal for how beautiful the animal was to others, or how frighteningly large his esteem and abilities, as in territorial disputes.

©Heraldo Mussolini
The other version of the head illustrated takes away that waddle and instead focuses on the solitary horn and what could certainly be described as a face that looks as though it is covered in a rough tumor-like growth. The dermal ridges and bumps would probably have served the same purpose as a waddle; warning others and intriguing mates. The mask-like appearance of the bumps and ridges also looks as though it may have acted as padding somewhat during pushing contests or head butting competitions. Despite proof of cannibalism it is much more likely that the majority of Majungasaurus fights were more about showing power than killing encroachers and rivals. The mask itself may have been colored just the same as we envision a turkey's waddle, or maybe it wasn't colored anything other than a useful camouflage color to aid in concealment. Perhaps we will find out one day.

The skeleton of Majungasaurus also has an important strangeness to it. The arms of Majungasaurus are held backwards as opposed to hanging down or pointing forward, the consensus seems to be. Some skeletons do indeed show the arms pointing at the very least downward toward the ground, however, the majority of accepted skeletons now show the arms pointing backwards toward the tail end of the dinosaur. The skeleton above still points backwards but the arms hang down as well, seemingly a compromise between the backwards and hang down arms camps of skeletal drawings. Either way, at least the skeletal drawings do not resemble this crazy thing here:
Which is clearly the most generic dinosaur drawing ever. In a very odd coincidence it comes from an article posted on SUNY Stonybrook's website discussing how their team helped discover many of the skeletons and their anatomical science group then posts this image of a skeleton right next to it almost:

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