Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Bob Bakker: Kung Fu Stegosaurs

Stegosaurian Martial Arts: A Jurassic Carnivore Stabbed by a Tail Spike, Evidence for Dynamic Interactions between a Live Herbivore and a Live Predator. Robert Bakker, et al. GSA, 2014

Stegosaurs might be portrayed as lumbering plant eaters, but they were lethal fighters when necessary, according to paleontologists who have uncovered new evidence of a casualty of stegosaurian combat. The evidence is a fatal stab wound in the pubis bone of a predatory allosaur. The wound – in the conical shape of a stegosaur tail spike – would have required great dexterity to inflict and shows clear signs of having cut short the allosaur's life.

“A massive infection ate away a baseball-sized sector of the bone,” reports Houston Museum of Natural Science paleontologist Robert Bakker and his colleagues, who present a poster on the discovery on Tuesday at the meeting of the Geological Society of America in Vancouver, B.C.

The fighting style and skill of stegosaurs should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the dinosaur battle scene in <a href=http://palaeoblog.blogspot.ca/2012/11/fantasia-premieres-1940.html>the 1940 Disney animated film Fantasia</a>, said Bakker. That segment of the movie shows a beefed up allosaur attacking a stegosaur. The stegosaur delivers a number of well aimed tail blows at the predator, but loses the fight. The Fantasia stegosaur tail dexterity appears to be accurate, he said.