Researchers now believe dinosaurs with large horns and frills didn’t just use them to fight or scare predators.
According to The Washington Post, scientistsfrom Queen Mary University of London determined these “exaggerated” features were likely used to attract the opposite sex.
The team arrived at this conclusion after studying the fossils of 37 Protoceratops andrewsi, which look a lot like the triceratops only without the three horns.
As these dinosaurs got older, their frills grew larger to the point where they were no longer proportionate to their bodies.
According to the study, this suggests the frills were the most useful when the dinosaurs reached adulthood — when it was time to find mates.
In a press release, lead author David Hone said,
Paleontologists have long suspected that many of the strange features we see in dinosaurs were linked to sexual display and social dominance, but this is very hard to show. The growth pattern we see in Protoceratops matches that seen for signaling structures in numerous different living species and forms a coherent pattern from very young animals right through to large adults.
Paleontologist Andrew Farke of the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology in California proposed anotherage-related purpose for the frills.
He told LiveSciencethese features may also have been used to show seniority and create order.
It’s also likely that it could just be for how old are you relative to the next animal, so who gets to the food first?
Study co-author Rob Knell, however, noted the unique appearances of many awe-inspiring animals were shaped by their evolved abilities to find mates.
According to Knell, these physical features are sometimes the key inthe emergence of new species.
This research was originally published in the journal Palaeontologia Electronica.
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