Thursday, January 12, 2012

Pachycephalosaurus

A dinosaur I had never heard of before They Might Be Giants came along:


But since then I've watched a National Geographic documentary that featured Pachy and I gave my 4-year-old a toy one with a book that features it.

So to be somewhat scientific to fit with the theme of my blog, and because teaching is the best way to learn (yes, I'm counting posting on a blog as teaching, so what?), I will share what I've learned about this dinosaur- including stuff I'm just now looking up! :D


Pachycephalosaurus Wyomingensis


Word roots!  Pachys means thick; cephalic - of or pertaining to the head.  "Thick headed."  I know a couple of people that could fit that description.  Maybe I'll start referring to them as pachycephalic and no one will even know I'm making fun of them. :)

So this documentary was called Dinosaurs Decoded and the basic premise was that 1/3 of dinosaur species never existed but were really just juvenille forms of other dinosaurs.  This seemed intriguing to me and brought back to mind the time I visited the BYU Museum of Paleontology and there was what looked like a small T-Rex (Torvosaurus or Allosaurus), which I shrugged off as my ignorance (which is still a valid dismissal- to the untrained observer, which I am, a lot of things that are very different may look the same).  But it did serve to plant the question in my head- don't they find fossils of younger individuals of the same species?  I don't remember ever seeing any fossils designated as juveniles or infants.

So are Dracorex and Stygimoloch really juvenille Pachycephalosaurus?


Dracorex, top left; Stygimoloch, top right; Pachycephalosaurus bottom

Maybe, maybe not.  Apparently there are not very many fossils of any of these.  There's only one Pachycephalosaurus skull, pictured below:

Pachycephalosaurus skull
Obviously I know almost nothing about Paleontology (for now), so I'm just regurgitating what I heard on the documentary.  I have no idea if the scientific community accepts this theory or what the current status of the issue is.  So stoked for my Prehistoric Life class this semester to learn more about this stuff.  I don't have time or funds to take more classes on Paleontology or Historical Geology, so hoping this class will cover the basics to the point I feel satisfied with a general knowledge of the subjects.

So go watch the video again- you know you want to.  Who can resist a Pachycephalosaurus that plays on the swings with you?  Seriously.  My 4-year-old goes around the house singing, "I am a Paleontologist..that's what I am, that's what I am, that's what I am."  Except it sounds like, "I am a pain in the tologist."  Well, I do often agree with that first part, but what the heck is a tologist?

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