Well I’ve got past my internet problems but a crash wiped out the new posts I had been preparing so while this will end the drought, expect only a few short ones for the next few days while I catch up. On that note, I would reiterate that I’m still looking for donated archosaur pictures for future posts.
So in the meantime enjoy this simple and unexciting quiz. This statue stands outside the IVPP and I walk past it several times a day going to and from the building and yet it was only after a year that a comment from Dave Unwin made me realise that there is a rather obvious mistake in the model. I’m not talking about minor anatomical tweaks like leg position or nostril size, so for any budding palaeontolgoists or developmental biologists what’s wrong here?
The answer for those that have not already got it is that these are rather obviously adult animals hatching from the eggs! If these were babies they should have hatchling like proportions – large heads relative to the body size and the frills and jugal bosses (cheek horns to be less jargon-y) should be much smaller if there at all. One would not expect these kinds fo secondary sexual characteristics to appear until adolesence and indeed this is what we see in the fossils of juvenile Protoceratops and close relatives like Psittacosaurus. I suspect the reason I missed this (and indeed I know many of my colleagues have done the same) if that the animals look *right*. They are well proportioned and well designed Protoceratops – accurate in every major way and they fit the metal image of a Protoceratops so there’s nothing wrong per se to trigger a mental reaction that there is a mistake. The eroor lies neither in the egg or the animal, but the fact that the two are together.
Well that’s it for ornithischian growth patterns and ornamentation, more Musings to come soon.