STL Science Center

STL Science Center

29 November 2014

Wrestling Bulldogs

Robert Broom's 1926 reconstruction
In a rather interesting turn of events in paleontology, Moschops has not changed much in stature since the original reconstructions by Robert Broom. Broom's mounted skeleton in the American Museum of Natural History possesses the same posture and pose that modern reconstructions and illustrations bear. The fact that this animal has not been "updated" in terms of posture does not necessarily mean that Moschops has not been studied or better understood in the past 90 or so years. In fact, Moschops has been studied well enough that many genera have been noted to be synonymous with Moschops and have therefore been grouped together. That does not happen without adequate study of the original and subsequent remains. The fact that the posture of Moschops has not been changed in the century since it has been discovered and described means that the posture is actually accurate and accepted by the majority of workers that have been associated with the animal. The posture is actually very much like that of a bulldog (though we know that a bulldog is not a "natural" breed of dog and its posture is somewhat artificial). This bulldog-like position puts the mass of the animal very low and behind the forelimbs, which were massively built. The shoulders are built so strongly in part for traction, as mentioned yesterday, and most likely to aid in intraspecies combat as well as for defensive posturing. It may not have been much of a wrestler, but making itself a much more difficult meal by having a lot of forebody strength would only have made it less susceptible to predators.

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