STL Science Center

STL Science Center

27 January 2016

Taking Down A Unicorn

In mythological situations the destruction of a unicorn is often considered a terrible and disgusting act. In the case of Tsintaosaurus the reversal of unicorn status to a fully crested hadrosaur was not s much terrible and disgusting as it was good scientific reasoning via retrieval of the anatomical facts from available evidence. The paper that takes apart the unicorn argument and rebuilds a fully fleshed out lambeosaurine crest for Tsintaosaurus is an open source PLoS article. Some may scoff at PLoS as a repository of barely refereed articles; however, the science is not always bad even if the writing sometimes is. We do not want to get into the argument of PLoS that exists among some scientists. Instead, read the article regardless of opinions about the vehicle it is delivered by. The article not only addresses the shape and inferences made about the crest but also the evolution of lambeosaurine hadrosaurs over time. This is not the first time that Prieto-Marquez and Wagner have worked on Tsintaosaurus and discussed it as a lambeosaurine hadrosaur. In 2009 they discussed Tsintaosaurus and Pararhabdodon as members of a new clade of lambeosaurine hadrosaurs. Tsintaosaurus has been compared to other hadrosaurs for years however, and these newer articles are not unique in that aspect at least. In 1993 Buffetaut and Tong-Buffetaut had compared Tsintaosaurus to the genus Tanius to show that earlier comparisons between the two genera describing little difference in general cranial anatomy were mistaken.

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