STL Science Center

STL Science Center

15 July 2015

Warming Your Face

As stated many times over, Aegisuchus, the "shield croc", was probably using the boss on its head to do a number of small tasks. One was, almost undoubtedly, as an outpost for many of the vessels of the head as they crossed in and out of the temporal fenestrae and warmed and cooled the brain and head, as in the medium sized 'gator shown below. Thermoregulation by conduction in the blood vessels is not unheard of in crocodiles and, in fact, is also seen in other extant taxa such as birds. Birds, for those that did not know, use a system of heat shunting in their legs, in particular, to keep warmer blood nearer their cores during the winter months and to shed the heat during the summer. Additionally, going back to our crocodile, the boss may have served as a signalling device. Having vasculature in the area could have allowed the crocodile to divert blood to and from it in a way that would allow the colors of the skin to change and signal to conspecifics as well as other animals that a threat or mate was near. Both uses are realistic and interesting and can be somewhat observed in their extant relatives as they use similar tactics to wake up in the morning.
Credit: Me, from about 3 feet away. Florida IS good for something! (I kid!)

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