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Triceratops may have had horns to attract mates



 Two illustrations of ceratopsian dinosaur heads - the left a sandy colored one with three horns and a spiky frill, one of the two horns and a flat frill Image copyright
Andrey Atuchin

Image caption

Artist's impression of two ceratopsian dinosaurs: Utahceratops gettyi (l) and Nasutoceratops titusi (r)
                

Dinosaurs like the Triceratops may have had a horn, and a new study suggests.

Ceratopsian, or horned dinosaurs,

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Instead, the aggressive-looking armor may actually have evolved to signal an animal's suitability as a partner, known as socio-sexual selection.

"Individuals Andrew Knapp, lead author of the research reported in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

"We see that in peacocks too, with their tail feathers."

Putting on a show

Features that can differentiate between species are usually less elaborate than those distinguishing males and females.

To prevent mating with other species, only subtle indications are needed.

The study's original design for the purpose of determining which distinctive horns and frills of ceratopsian dinosaurs were for this inter-species purpose.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Frills and horns are common features in ceratopsian dinosaurs
                

Previous research had taken its place for predator defense and regulating body temperature.

"It is exciting that dinosaur fossils are being examined more and more exhaustively in order to further understand their palaeobiology," commented Dr Darla Zelenitsky, from

Fossil records for all known ceratopsian species were analyzed by location and time period

"Some of these ornaments were probably used at times for defense against In their evolution, added Dr Zelenitsky, who teaches palaeobiology.

Further work is now being done to test whether socio- sexual selection is the motivating factor behind the evolution of these ornaments.

Mr Knapp points out that there is not a lot of evidence for species recognition even in living animals. Instead, there may be some reason to think about it.

Image copyright
Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology

Image caption

Chasmosaurus skeleton: some frills have holes to reduce weight
                

Equal parenting

Equal parenting

The study did not find the same distinguishing distinction between their siblings and the Queen Mary University of London, UK, researcher said dinosaurs could not be distinguished from each other in the fossil record. If there were physical differences, they may have been very subtle.

"The fact that they have both lived and died is very interesting." "added Mr Knapp.

Ceratopsians are egg-laying, and the female does not need to carry them in the way that mammals do.

"Possibly they are both in their own hands", said Mr Knapp.

Image copyright
Scott Hartman

Image caption

Ceratopsians have diverse skull ornamentation
                


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