January 28, 2006 | David F. Coppedge

Nobody Nose What Dino Crest Was For

Some duck-billed dinosaurs, like the Lambeosaur, had tall bony crests.  No one is quite sure what these odd appendages were used for.  David Evans (U of Toronto) decided to test the theory that they were for enhancing the sense of smell, reported Bjorn Carey in LiveScience.  Evans created the first brain cast of a Lambeosaur, and it didn’t appear to curve up into the cavity.  The other theories are up for grabs.  Was it a snorkel?  A brain cooler?  A device to attract mates?  A weapon to deter predators?  A voice resonator?  Look at the picture on MSNBC and invent your own theory.

It’s worthwhile to measure things, and it’s fun to speculate, but without recreating Jurassic Park, we are not going to be able to know for sure.  Maybe they were back scratchers, or used for some unknown dino sporting event.  Maybe they were just cute.  One reader wrote in suggesting they were handles for the moms to carry their little darlings; one for each hand (claw?) and two for the mouth.  But then, doesn’t that give T. rex a handle, too?  Wait: T. rex has no hands to speak of.  Maybe the crest was like a steering column or joystick for the wild Lambeosaurus-back ride.

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Categories: Dinosaurs

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