Jimmy remembers a better time, before Kota's deceit and inevitable betrayal.Turns out that staple of grade-school science is just a phase of growth in another dino's life cycle: the torosaurus. Or maybe it's the either way around. Whatever the case, trike and toro are the same beast at different points in their now singular life. Turns out the frill was the shill--the large frill that adorns the rear of the animals' skulls is not a sign that they were two different species, but the frill itself changed as they matured.
Triceratops had three facial horns and a short, thick neck-frill with a saw-toothed edge. Torosaurus also had three horns, though at different angles, and a much longer, thinner, smooth-edged frill with two large holes in it. So it's not surprising that Othniel Marsh, who discovered both in the late 1800s, considered them to be separate species.So how did the change occur?
This extreme shape-shifting was possible because the bone tissue in the frill and horns stayed immature, spongy and riddled with blood vessels, never fully hardening into solid bone as happens in most animals during early adulthood. The only modern animal known to do anything similar is the cassowary, descended from the dinosaurs, which develops a large spongy crest when its skull is about 80 per cent fully grown.
Shape-shifting continued throughout these dinosaurs' lives, Scannella says. "Even in the most mature specimens that we've examined, there is evidence that the skull was still undergoing dramatic changes at the time of death.
First Pluto's not a planet, now triceratops isn't...a triceratops! Honestly, it's fascinating to think that we've perceived them as two different animals for decades. Sure it all sounds like a "well, duh!" moment, but think about how many animals we see every day that go through similar changes and we never think twice--a butterfly for instance.
Triceratops wasn't the only casualty, as you can tell by the image, old bone-head pachycephalosaurus is another transforming dinobot--er, saur. This new theory could extend to several other species as well.
Hopefully none of the differences in the frills or horns will effect our ability to saddle them with lasers.
Get the full story from New Scientist.
Also at Live Science.
Hat tip to Boing Boing, and the wonderful Maggie Koerth-Baker who's insight and commentary is always spot-on (and fun!).