Pachycephalosaurus – thick-skulled head banger

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Did you know?

Pachycephalosaurus undergoes profound modifications in appearance as it grows, changing from a flat-skulled juvenile to a dome-skulled adult

Vital statistics

Length:                                   4.5m (about the length of a family saloon car)

Height:                                    approximately 80-100cm at hip

Weight:                                   450kg

Discovery:                               named 1943

Distinguishing features:        bipedal, slender forelimbs, domed skull fringed with spikes and knobs, spiky snout

 

Chronotex Field Observations

Pachycephalosaurus was one of the first creatures we studied in detail at the TimeBase. They’re social in the same way that their close relatives the ceratopsians are, and their complex mating displays have proved fascinating to biologists.  

Their giant skull domes aren’t just for head-butting – they also act as elaborate visual display structures, playing an important role in signalling adulthood. Like Tyrannosaurus, Pachycephalosaurus is a dinosaur that undergoes a profound change in appearance as it matures to adulthood.

Mature male Pachycephalosaurus have proved to be very difficult animals to study, as they’re aggressive and unpredictable. The creature’s unusual tail, with its particularly wide tail base, sometimes plays a defence or attack role, as do its large, powerful hind limbs. This dinosaur’s fangs and its powerful beak at the front of the mouth can be used to deliver a very dangerous bite!

Key facts

  • Bipedal herbivore with broad body, slender arms and massive rounded skull dome
  • Skull dome very thick (up to 30cm), thickest skull of any animal ever
  • Undergoes profound growth modifications as it changes from flat-skull, spiky animal to dome-skulled adult
  • Fang-like teeth in front of jaws, small teeth with leaf-shaped, serrated crowns further back
  • Numerous rod-like bones in tail are intermuscular bones, a set of structures elsewhere known in fish, but not typical of dinosaurs or other reptiles

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