Now Watch Me… Acrocanthosaurus


It seems some dinosaurs could really shake their tail feathers. Paleontologists (scientists who study dinosaurs and other creatures from the distance past) have discovered fossilized scrape marks in 100-million-year-old sandstone in Colorado they believe were made by lively dancing dinos as part of a mating display. Mating displays are when the male shows off his best moves or flashiest colors to impress the females (think of a peacock’s tail).

Since the footprints couldn’t be removed from the rock without damaging them, the team of scientists used some nifty new technology to create digital 3D models of the marks, and rubber molds that they could analyze back at the lab. The team examined multiple possibilities of why the dino would have created the marks — perhaps they were searching for food or marking their territory? However, after some careful elimination, they concluded that the scrapes were indeed made as part of a mating dance. This conclusion is supported by the fact that the scrapes are almost identical to marks made by dancing birds today, and evidence that some dinosaurs had colorful feather head crests just like their showy modern relatives.

Based on the location and date of the marks, the scientists were able to determine that the dancer was an Acrocanthosaurus, a massive 38 foot long carnivore that walked on two legs. A male Acrocanthosaurus would most likely scrape, bob his head, and “sing” or make vocalizations during his dance just like modern birds. Now that is a show I want to see!

Scientists aren’t sure how many species would have participated in mating displays or when they began, but they are hoping with the knowledge from this discovery, and a keen eye, they can find more evidence of this fascinating behavior.

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Jan 11, 2016

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