CLOSE

10 Plated Facts About Kentrosaurus

Perhaps the least-cuddly dinosaur of all time, Kentrosaurus boasted some horrific weaponry—and a rather perplexing sex life.

1. Kentrosaurus Could Swing its Tail Spikes with Skull-Cracking Speed.

Get your hard hats ready! Dr. Heinrich Mallison of Tübingen University contends that this Tanzanian beast’s tail could swing in a 180-degree arc and create “forces greater than those sufficient to fracture a human skull." 

2. A Digital Kentrosaurus Was Created in 2005.

After scanning some Kentrosaurus remains currently housed in Berlin, Mallison created a digital skeleton model that allowed him to explore the animal’s range of motion. Among other things, this virtual avatar suggests that Kentrosaurus’ neck was quite flexible—all the better for spotting nearby predators.    

3. One Gender May Have Had Meatier Thighs.

Kentrosaurus femurs—or “thigh bones”—come in two varieties: robust and (comparatively) slender. If these groups represent different sexes, it’s worth noting that roughly two out of three specimens fall within the first category. Perhaps thicker-thighed individuals were females who formed harems around the less-abundant males.

4. Kentrosaurus Brain Casts Have Been Produced.

Few stegosaur brain cavities are well-preserved enough to give us a decent look at their shape. However, both Kentrosaurus and Stegosaurus itself have yielded enough material for the molding of brain casts, which might help scientists gather data on everything from relative intelligence to sense of smell.

5. It Grew Up Relatively Fast.

According to one recent study, Kentrosaurus matured more rapidly than its better-known cousin Stegosaurus. Average adults would have been about fifteen feet long—half the length of a fully-grown Stegosaurus.

6. There’s Been Some Debate Over Where its “Extra Spikes” Were Located.

Among Kentrosaurus’ most distinguishing features is a pair of broad-based spikes, which were initially thought to have been anchored to its hips. However, similar ornaments have been found anchored to the shoulders of fellow stegosaur Gigantspinosaurus, suggesting Kentrosaurus spikes were also located there.  

7. Kentrosaurus Might Have Squatted for Defense.

While strolling about, Kentrosaurus’ arms were held erect, but Mallison’s model found that the animal could also splay its forelimbs far out to each side, possibly in an attempt to guard its underbelly from carnivores.

8. Stegosaurs Like Kentrosaurus Had an Odd Center of Gravity.

Who’s up for some dino physics? Those muscular tails had a dramatic impact on stegosaur weight distribution. Their center of gravity was much further back than it is in most quadrupedal animals, resting all the way in the hip region. Thanks to this handy feature, stegosaurs could more easily rear up on their hind limbs and swing around their trademark tails.

9. Kentrosaurus’ Spikes Weren’t as Durable as Stegosaurus’.

Longer, skinnier spikes like Kentrosaurus’ may be better at piercing, but, as paleontologist Ken Carpenter points out, Stegosaurus’ thicker and proportionally shorter models were less likely to bend or break.

10. Kentrosaurus Sex Raises Wince-Inducing Safety Questions.

When your partner has gigantic, upward-facing spikes running all the way from her hips to her tail tip, making love requires caution. Mallison found that if an overeager male threw his hind leg over a mate’s backside, he’d castrate himself. “These prickly dinosaurs must have had sex another way,” says the scientist. “Perhaps the female lay down on her side and the male reared up to rest his torso over her.” 

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Martin Wittfooth
arrow
Art
The Cat Art Show Is Coming Back to Los Angeles in June
Martin Wittfooth
Martin Wittfooth

After dazzling cat and art lovers alike in 2014 and again in 2016, the Cat Art Show is ready to land in Los Angeles for a third time. The June exhibition, dubbed Cat Art Show 3: The Sequel Returns Again, will feature feline-centric works from such artists as Mark Ryden, Ellen von Unwerth, and Marion Peck.

Like past shows, this one will explore cats through a variety of themes and media. “The enigmatic feline has been a source of artistic inspiration for thousands of years,” the show's creator and curator Susan Michals said in a press release. “One moment they can be a best friend, the next, an antagonist. They are the perfect subject matter, and works of art, all by themselves.”

While some artists have chosen straightforward interpretations of the starring subject, others are using cats as a springboard into topics like gender, politics, and social media. The sculpture, paintings, and photographs on display will be available to purchase, with prices ranging from $300 to $150,000.

Over 9000 visitors are expected to stop into the Think Tank Gallery in Los Angeles during the show's run from June 14 to June 24. Tickets to the show normally cost $5, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting a cat charity, and admission will be free for everyone on Wednesday, June 20. Check out a few of the works below.

Man in Garfield mask holding cat.
Tiffany Sage

Painting of kitten.
Brandi Milne

Art work of cat in tree.
Kathy Taselitz

Painting of white cat.
Rose Freymuth-Frazier

A cat with no eyes.
Rich Hardcastle

Painting of a cat on a stool.
Vanessa Stockard

Sculpture of pink cat.
Scott Hove

Painting of cat.
Yael Hoenig
nextArticle.image_alt|e
Tony Karumba, AFP/Getty Images
arrow
Animals
How a Pregnant Rhino Named Victoria Could Save an Entire Subspecies
Sudan, the last male member of the northern white rhino subspecies, while being shipped to Kenya in 2009
Sudan, the last male member of the northern white rhino subspecies, while being shipped to Kenya in 2009
Tony Karumba, AFP/Getty Images

The last male northern white rhino died at a conservancy in Kenya earlier this year, prompting fears that the subspecies was finally done for after decades of heavy poaching. Scientists say there's still hope, though, and they're banking on a pregnant rhino named Victoria at the San Diego Zoo, according to the Associated Press.

Victoria is actually a southern white rhino, but the two subspecies are related. Only two northern white rhinos survive, but neither of the females in Kenya are able to reproduce. Victoria was successfully impregnated through artificial insemination, and if she successfully carries her calf to term in 16 to 18 months, scientists say she might be able to serve as a surrogate mother and propagate the northern white rhino species.

But how would that work if no male northern rhinos survive? As the AP explains, scientists are working to recreate northern white rhino embryos using genetic technology. The San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research has the frozen cell lines of 12 different northern white rhinos, which can be transformed into stem cells—and ultimately, sperm and eggs. The sperm of the last northern white male rhino, Sudan, was also saved before he died.

Scientists have been monitoring six female southern white rhinos at the San Diego Zoo to see if any emerge as likely candidates for surrogacy. However, it's not easy to artificially inseminate a rhino, and there have been few successful births in the past. There's still a fighting chance, though, and scientists ultimately hope they'll be able to build up a herd of five to 15 northern white rhinos over the next few decades.

[h/t Time Magazine]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios