Science Writing, Apr 7 (Latest).- “Big John” is the largest fossil skeleton of the triceratops that has been found, and the most expensive. It was discovered in South Dakota (USA) in 2014, but after being exhibited for a few months, it went up for auction and was acquired by a collector for 6.6 million euros (about 7.2 million dollars). .
Now, a study published in the journal Scientific Reports, from the Nature group, analyzes the skull injuries of this famous specimen and concludes that they could have been produced in a combat with another triceratops approximately 66 million years ago.
The triceratops (Triceratops horridus) is a species of dinosaur with three horns (two on the sides of the head and one on the snout, similar to those exhibited by current rhinoceroses) and a large bony gala, a platform located on the back of the skull resembling a steering wheel that surrounds the neck.
The function of this bone mass remains unclear.
It has traditionally been suggested that this bony frill was the animal’s defense against injury from other triceratops, and in fact popular scientific literature often depicts these animals engaged in combat.
However, the most recent theories suggest that, given the large number of blood vessels that irrigated the skin in that area, it may have had a thermoregulatory function or simply an aesthetic purpose (for sexual courtship or to show dominance).
In this study, University of Chieti-Pescara biologist Ruggero D’Anastasio and his team examined this triceratops specimen known as “Big John,” which was situated in the Upper Cretaceous geological formation called Hell Creeken in South Dakota. .
It is estimated that when he died, “Big John” was about 60 years old, weighed about six tons and had a traumatic neck injury.
In his study, D’Anastasio found a keyhole-like opening in the right squamosal bone.
The bony surface around the mark was irregular and had plaque-like bone deposits, which the authors believe could have formed after inflammation (possibly infection).
The team also analyzed samples taken from the larger part of the mark and found that surrounding bone tissue was porous and blood-vesseled compared to bone further away from the mark, which the authors suggest It is a newly formed bone.
In addition, they found small pits known as Howship’s lacunae, which appear when a bone is remodeling.
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