back to article SEX: Naughty female stegosauruses offered it on a PLATE

Differences in stegosauruses' armour plating may have had distinctly sexual origins, the University of Bristol's Evan Thomas Saitta suggests. Sophie, the teenage Stegosaurus starlet on display at the Natural History Museum, has 19 plates along her back. These are quite thin, suggesting no particular utility in defence. …

  1. ratfox Silver badge
    Holmes

    Whenever biologists can't figure out something about an animal, they say it's for mating rituals.

    And whenever archaeologists can't figure out something about a civilization, they say it's religious.

    Probably because if that's the only explanation they can come up with, well then it must be the truth. Sherlock Holmes has a lot to answer for.

    1. Paul Kinsler

      Re: "if that's the only explanation they can come up with, well then it must be the truth."

      Quote from the article: "Differences in stegosauruses' armour plating may have had distinctly sexual origins, the University of Bristol's Evan Thomas Saitta suggests"

      Note the two words "MAY", "SUGGESTS". Neither of those two words supports your contention that Saitta thinks the idea "MUST be the truth"

    2. Slacker@work

      In the same way the physicists prefix everything as "DARK" when they don't understand something?

      1. Fungus Bob Silver badge
        Devil

        What does that say about physicists and DARK Humor?

        Hmmm...

    3. Stevie Silver badge

      4 ratfox

      So I guess when, in the far distant future, archeologists come across these dinoboffins' ruined quarters containing the puzzling stegosaurus bits their most apposite comment will be "holy fuck!"

    4. Lord Raa

      To be fair, sex/mating rituals and religion are serious business and people/species have spent a lot of time and energy making sure that they're done properly.

  2. alain williams Silver badge

    Would those plates ...

    have made her dishy ?

  3. Dr Dan Holdsworth Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Some questions still remain

    Dinosaurs had more or less the same sort of genital arrangement as do birds, namely a common orifice for urine, faeces and genital systems; this set-up is common to birds, reptiles and marsupials. Only eutherian mammals (the group we're in) evolved away from this arrangement.

    In reptiles, this makes mating a fairly delicate operation; the male has to get it just right although having not one but a pair of penises probably assists somewhat here. In birds, a couple of different techniques are used; the majority use a penis-less sperm transfer, and ducks, geese and ratites use various penis-like structures of varying but occasionally rather improbable dimensions (two feet for Argentinian Lake ducks).

    Dinosaurs presumably used penis-like structures and some seem to have slightly more robust pelvic bones that presumably acted as support. However even this arrangement still looks improbable for animals like Stegosaurus; the dorsal plates would seem to preclude the male getting very close to the female. Stegosaurs also had particularly small brains, even for herbivorous dinosaurs, so whatever they did must not have required much thinking to achieve.

    The only problem is that behaviour and soft tissue structures don't fossilise. So, any suggestions as to what went on?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Some questions still remain

      " the dorsal plates would seem to preclude the male getting very close to the female. "

      I'd be more wary of the thagomizer!

    2. Evil Auditor Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Some questions still remain

      So, any suggestions as to what went on?

      Yep! They'd never existed, hence never bred. God arranged those fossils 6'000 years ago. Full stop.

    3. Evil Auditor Silver badge

      Re: Some questions still remain

      On a more serious note, why do we suggest that they even had intercourse - maybe the females laid their unfertilised eggs in a cosy place and the males sprayed over it? Then again, this might have involved a bit too much thinking. Unless, like today's dogs, they "marked" about everywhere...

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Some questions still remain

        Wouldn't that require that they be more of an egg sac than hard shelled egg?

        1. Evil Auditor Silver badge

          Re: Some questions still remain

          Wouldn't that require that they be more of an egg sac than hard shelled egg?

          Good point! Do we know that they had hard shelled eggs? But I guess that also depends on the kind of sperm cells - what do we know about them? I mean, these were dinosaurs' sperm cells!

          Bearing in mind that dinosaurs are largely extinct, their way of reproduction may not have been the most successful...

          1. Mark 85 Silver badge

            Re: Some questions still remain

            They (paleontologists) have found what they claim are fossilized dinosaur eggs that look like big chicken eggs so.. probably were hard shelled. Egg sacs disappear pretty quickly.

          2. Andrew Meredith

            Re: Some questions still remain

            "Bearing in mind that dinosaurs are largely extinct, their way of reproduction may not have been the most successful..."

            Either that or the universe dropped a stuffing great rock on their heads ;-)

            The Saurians actually represented the highest level of physical evolution yet. For example the only instance of a true ball joint that has ever existed in nature is the Ceratopsians' neck/head joint. It allowed total freedom of movement for the armoured head. They were completely caught off guard by a totally unprecedented event.

    4. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Some questions still remain

      This leads to a whole new meaning of the concept of "jiggery pokery".

    5. Captain DaFt

      Re: Some questions still remain

      Well, there is debate over whether the dorsal plates were fixed or moveable.

      It's not entirely unlikely that a female in heat could lay the dorsal plates flat to allow a male to mount her.

    6. Martin Budden Bronze badge

      Re: Some questions still remain

      "marsupials"

      Nope. The vast majority of marsupials have bits like ours. Only two species have the single-opening arrangement: platypus and echidna. These two are collectively known as "monotremes". All the others (kangaroos, wombats, possums, bilbys, etc etc etc) possess the kind of undercarriage you'd normally expect of any mammal.

      1. x 7

        Re: Some questions still remain

        There are FIVE known extant monotreme species: four echidnas and the platypus. And monotremes are not marsupials

  4. dogged

    Headline mental images

    Female STEGASAURUS, CARL.

    ON A PLATE CARL

    ON A PLATE!

    (clicky)

  5. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Happy

    Every schoolboy's favourite dino?

    Stegosaurus is OK, but I was much more a T. rex or Ankylosaurus fan as a kid (and I still haven't grown up according to my missus)

    1. Slacker@work

      Re: Every schoolboy's favourite dino?

      Triceratops for the win!!

    2. Evil Auditor Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Every schoolboy's favourite dino?

      and I still haven't grown up according to my missus

      She didn't expect you to grow up, did she?!

      1. frank ly

        Re: Every schoolboy's favourite dino?

        When she first met him, she said she liked his 'boyish nature'. So he kept it and worked on it.

  6. x 7

    Anorexia. Dinosaur females were either tubby lardbuckets, or else psychoticanorexics. Just like women

  7. ElectricFox
    Boffin

    Dinoboffin

    Such a cool word. I hope it's on their job titles!

    Started listening to the Jurassic Park film score after reading this....

  8. Arachnoid

    without the modern style reversing sound obviously

    Maybe they lifted their tails and backed up to one another

  9. x 7

    the quills don't stop porcupines, so why should a few plates stop stegosaurs?

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