Posted by: tylereddy | June 21, 2013

Dinosaur of the Week: Amargasaurus

Admittedly I don’t have a long-standing fascination with dinosaurs. I don’t remember playing with them as a kid, I didn’t collect them and I couldn’t recite their names as a child. My earliest ‘interest’ in dinosaurs was a vain attempt to avoid visiting relatives during road trips as a child. We would drive the eight hours to Calgary and as we neared the Drumheller turnoff I would implore my dad to detour off the highway so we could see the dinosaurs. We had long lost relatives to visit, so we sped past the sign and my interest in dinosaurs floundered around in the ditch somewhere along the Trans Canada highway.

It wasn’t until years later when we visited the RoyalTyrrellMuseum in my college days that I rediscovered dinosaurs. I also relived another era of my childhood that day as I fell in the mud and had to wash my pants in the bathroom like an ashamed four year old that had an accident. No matter, I realized my intrigue with dinosaurs was still alive that day …at the ripe young age of twenty two.

I didn’t have a favourite at that time, but a decade after reviving my dinosaur interest I have a favourite – Styracosaurus. He’s a ceratopsian dinosaur and he’s the perfect mix of good looks and power. He’s got a giant frill like his cousin triceratops, but he has many more spikes radiating off of his frill. The spikes remind me of an awesome hairdo that makes him stand out from other ceratopsians, and we all know that more spikes equals more badass. Now in Argentina I’ve discovered his rebellious long neck cousin: Amargasaurus.

Styracosaurus-1

My favourite Styracosaurus illustration (Copyright JP Institute)

Everybody knows that the mullet is the greatest head decoration of all time, but the Mohawk is a close second. Since science has yet to find a dinosaur with a mullet (soon people, soon) Amargasaurus and his mohawk easily ranks as the best adaptation of a sauropod dinosaur. Amargasaurus was only a quarter of the size of the 40 metre Argentinosaurus, so he needed something to make him stand out. Tool number one: the Mohawk.

Amargasaurus is a famous dinosaur in Argentina, hailing from the Neuquen area. We first met in Buenos Aires. From the other end of the gallery I mused at how cute that miniature sauropod was, but on approach I could tell that the mohawk meant business. The longest spines are over 60 centimeters and with a horse-like head and powerful body, Amargasaurus was a very powerful herbivore. Some think that the dual rows of spines supported two rows of sails like that of Spinosaurus, but I prefer to support the theory that the spines were individual sheathed, doubling the intensity and power of the mohawk.

With Amargasaurus at Museo Egidio Feruglio

With Amargasaurus at Museo Egidio Feruglio

There are many hypotheses around the use of the spines, like defense, communication, species recognition and temperature regulation. But quite obviously it is the ultimate adaptation for mating purposes. Go get ‘em Amargasaurus!

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Responses

  1. Hmm, I betcha they were used for some kind of air-sac system, or muscle-attachment. Impressive, nevertheless!


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