Did dinosaurs display sexual dimorphism?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sometimes the male and female of a species look quite different from one another: this is called sexual dimorphism. A common example is the startling difference between the showy male peacock and the very plain peahen. Some paleontologists think dinosaurs may also have had sexual dimorphism.

Perhaps features like the "frill" of a Triceratops were adornments for attracting a mate, for example. Differences in body size, meanwhile, may have also been sex-related: Paleobiologist Phil Senter has suggested that sexual selection plays a part in the evolution of long necks of some dinosaurs - the longest-necked Apatosaurus and Diplodocus might have gotten the best partners [source: Atkinson]. However, the problem of determining which gender is which remains. If the Triceratops frill is indeed a sexual decoration, we don't know whether the male or the female was doing the decorating.

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