STL Science Center

STL Science Center

14 April 2012

The Many Monolophosaurus

©Scott Hartman
Skeletal Drawing

The skeleton of the type fossil of Monolophosaurus is clearly not complete. This does happen. The sadness behind that is that there is no other fossil known at this time. As you can see, Scott Hartman has filled in a lot of the skeletal details the way he does for other animals by using existing animals as reference, though he still left the tail unfinished, it gives us a good idea of the animals. The fact that Monolophosaurus had a complete skull is very important because without that characteristic and amazing skull ridge, we would have no idea that these fossil remains actually belong to an individual of a distinct species rather than a species that was previously known. The skull is, itself, the distinguishing and most interesting feature that exists of the skeleton and where the name of the animal came from initially, making it that much more important to the remains.
©Paul Heaston

That crest on Monolophosaurus is open to interpretation. Some crests that will be illustrated are small things, just the ridges of the actual bone covered in skin. This is not necessarily incorrect. Then there are interpretations which extended the crest a little, such as this one, so that the skin has shown some extra personality in addition to what the bone has done on the skeleton. Considering the use of this crest was most likely for display, as is assumed in the makeup of many other crests such as those sported by Cryolophosaurus and Ceratosaurus, individuality would have been more the norm than the exception. The crest itself would have marked the species but the individual hues and bumps would have marked an individual and allowed that individual to show itself as impressive and frightening or, dare we say it, sexy.

©Michael Skrepnick
Monolophosaurus was definitely a predator. The assumption, because of the timeframe, and body build it seems to have had, is that it had Allosaurus like claws. The argument could also be made, though, that it may have had Ceratosaurus like claws. The difference between the two is strength and number. Allosaurus claws were stronger and three digits were expressed whereas Ceratosaurus had four weaker claws. The strength of Ceratosaurus, however, was in its jaws. The jaws of Monolophosaurus do not exhibit the same shearing teeth of Ceratosaurus, so perhaps that is why the illustrations favor the Allosaurus body type with a good balance of speed, claws, and jaws. We know, of course, that the ridge on the skull is not used in fighting or hunting, however, the risk of breaking any bone does exist and should that bone be broken during a conflict I could only imagine the pain that would be involved for an animal of that size considering how thick the bone seems to be, for a relatively thin bone as it is, but thick as far as something being broken and the amount of stress that that would require to break. Most likely, the Monolophosaurus probably raced down its prey and used strong slashes of claws and quick bites to take down prey without exposing itself to any injury crest or otherwise.

©Alain Beneteau
I don't think I want to say much about feathering. Feathering is the big thing these days because we have been finding so much evidence of dinosaurs having feathers, which is awesome. This illustration shows up the feathers and downplays the crest as though it was not nearly as important which is both kind of interesting and a new take on it which makes this rather large animal look a great deal like the dromaeosaurs and very avian. It even has a tiny little wattle like a turkey, which is neat.

No comments:

Post a Comment