STL Science Center

STL Science Center

23 May 2012

Huayangosaurus Was Discovered When I Was Discovered

The twelve original specimens were unearthed in 1982, the same year I was born, that is pretty interesting and a small fun fact. Unfortunately, none of those twelve individuals consisted of complete specimens. The fact that twelve were found all together is, in itself, quite intriguing. Typically we don't see Stegosaurus traveling in herds in the fossil evidence or in the documentaries we have available, however, is it possible that Huayangosaurus was a herding animal? I wonder if this has been looked into or if it is considered a washed out area where bodies collected during a flood or something. Then again, if it was a wash out from a flood there would be other dinosaurs present too, so I may have just answered that question for good. Regardless, they collected for some reason and sudden death in a flood or mudslide or avalanche could account for this, I cannot tell anyone what it was because I have not found mention of the soil particulates that made up the rocks of the find, and this collection, I am willing to bet, was, if not herding behavior, at least a giant get together for the purposes of little stegosaurian love.

A note about the anatomy of this basal stegosaur. Huayangosaurus was placed within its own family on account of its rather basal skeleton, which we previously glossed over vaguely. The spikes on the shoulders I think we have covered more than enough of this past week. The skull, though, to the right, we have barely mentioned other than to state that it is very basal and almost resembles that of a nodosaur. After I made that comment I checked the group's tree and realized, though I still have not found an "official" opinion which backs up my assertion, that the head probably looks this way in part because it is so basal that it represents the first species on the stegosaur branch of the tree after stegosaurs and ankylosaurs began to evolve away from each other. Should that prove correct, and anyone that can back me up or disprove it is more than welcome to chime in, then I would feel pretty darned awesome about it. However, there is more than a neat theory behind the skull. The skull itself has premaxillary teeth, a trait not found in stegosaurs. Early nodosaurs also have some small evidence of premaxillary teeth prior to the beak adaptations of ankylosaurus and later nodosaurs showing in the fossil record.

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