Washington D.C., Jan. 17 (ANI): According to a new analysis, large ornamental structures in dinosaurs, such as horns and head crests are likely to have been used in sexual displays and to assert social dominance.
This is the first time scientists have linked the function of anatomy to sexual selection in dinosaurs.
Protoceratops had a large bony frill that extended from the back of the head over the neck. Study of fossils aged from babies to adults revealed the adults to have disproportionately larger frills in relation to their size.
The research shows that the frill was absent in juveniles and suddenly increased in size as the animals reached maturity suggesting that its function is linked to sexual selection.
This suggests the frill might have been used to attract suitable mates by showing off their best attributes or helping them assert the most dominant position in social interactions.
The researchers assessed the change in length and width of the frill over four life stages- hatchling babies, young animals, near-adults, and adults. Not only did the frill change in size but it also changed in shape, becoming proportionally wider as the dinosaur became older.
The study has been published in Palaeontologia Electronica. (ANI)