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10 Resilient Facts About Pachyrhinosaurus

Rodney, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Pachyrhinosaurus sticks out like a sore thumb. Despite being a so-called “horned” dinosaur, there were few actual horns on its blunt, rugged skull. Still, there’s an undeniable beauty to this distinctive creature.

1. Those Facial Lumps are Called “Bosses.”

A huge, flattened bulge rests above Pachyrhinosaurus’ nose, while two smaller ones are situated over its eyes. On a fully grown animal, the nasal boss would have been covered by a thick sheath and some padding.  

2. We’ve Found Three Species so Far.

Pachyrhinosaurus canadensis was named in 1950, Pachyrhinosaurus lakustai in 2008, and Pachyrhinosaurus perotorum in 2012. You might assume that each species looked a lot like the other two, and you’d be right. Still, there are subtle differences that help scientists tell them apart. For instance, the nose boss of P. canadensis was flat and rounded, while P. perotorum's had a domed top. Meanwhile, there were some cool “unicorn horns” jetting out from the center of P. lakustai’s frill (just behind its eyes).

3. It Lived in Alaska and Alberta.

Pachyrhinosaurus presided over an unusually large range. Mass graveyards containing whole herds have been found in Canada’s westernmost prairie province. Alaska is the home state of P. perotorum—which, oddly enough, is named after billionaire and ex-presidential candidate Ross Perot, who hails from Texas. 

4. Pachyrhinosaurus was First Discovered By a Member of America’s Greatest Fossil-Hunting Family.

It all started with Charles Hazelius Sternberg (1850-1943), a Reverend’s son whose paleontological career would stretch from the gilded age to the Great Depression. His boys—George F., Charles M., and Levi—followed in their father’s footsteps by getting involved with the science he loved. Pachyrhinosaurus is just one of the dinosaurs brought to light by middle son Charles M., who also named heavily-armored Edmontonia.

5. You’ll Sometimes See Pachyrhinosaurus Drawn With Absurdly Large Horns.

The dino’s poor cousins would have felt painfully insecure if retro paintings and models like this one reflected reality. Back in the '70s, a few specialists wondered if there was more to Pachyrhinosaurus bosses than meets the eye. Perhaps these knobs formed the base of thick, ginormous horns—and maybe those weapons had simply broken off post-mortem. After all, fossilization can be a pretty brutal process. But while field workers have recovered numerous Pachyrhinosaurus skulls, none has included badass super horns.

6. Walking With Dinosaurs: The Movie (2013) Turned Pachyrhinosaurus into an Up-And-Coming Star.

Though its big screen debut came in Disney’s Dinosaur (2000), this recent family film was the first to give Pachyrhinosaurus top-billing treatment. Walking With Dinosaurs: The Movie focuses on a young male named “Patchi,” his brother “Scowler,” and their herd.

7. These Guys Might have Flanked Each Other in Combat.

Many specimens not only feature broken ribs, but partially-healed ones as well. Obviously, there was some significant roughhousing afoot. Paleontologists speculate that during duels with same-species rivals, a Pachyrhinosaurus would ram its head into the opponent’s side.

8. According to One Estimate, Juveniles Reached Sexual Maturity at Around 9 Years of Age.

After surveying growth bands in Pachyrhinosaurus femurs, dino development experts Gregory M. Erickson and Patrick S. Druckenmiller concluded that it took roughly nine years for an individual to reach mating age. At that point, he or she would really wanna hurry up and start dating—a scant decade later, the animal could expect to die of natural causes.

9. Pachyrhinosaurus May Have Been Migratory.

Did Pachyrhinosaurus herds embark upon harsh, seasonal journeys—possibly from Alaska to southern Alberta and back? Perhaps. University of Alberta professor Phillip Currie has opined that, if this kind of mass exodus really did happen, the great herbivore likely followed coastal plains each way. Then again, Pachyrhinosaurus could have also stayed put year-round—the genus's presence in both locales doesn’t prove anything beyond its ability to succeed throughout a very wide geographic area.

10. The 2010 Arctic Winter Games Used Pachyrhinosaurus as Their Official Mascot.

Held in various spots around Canada and Alaska, this recurring competition has been helping far-north athletes show off their skills since 1970.  In 2010, these games came to Grand Prairie, Alberta, a city which rests on the historic Wapiti River. Since a Pachyrhinosaurus bone bed also resides near that waterway, an anthropomorphic version of the dino (named “Aluk”) assumed mascot duties. “The prominence of similar bone beds through North America’s higher latitudes,” said P.R. director Joanne Balance, “makes [Pachyrhinosaurus] a fabulous ambassador that speaks not only to the history of our region, but brings to light a common thread between some of the Northern regions participating in the Arctic Winter Games.” 

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LEGO
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New LEGO Set Recreates Jurassic Park's Iconic Velociraptor Chase Scenes
LEGO
LEGO

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the fifth installment in the Jurassic Park franchise, is skulking into theaters on June 22. That makes now the perfect time to revisit the original film in LEGO form.

This LEGO set, spotted by Nerdist, depicts some of the most suspenseful scenes from the 1993 movie. There's the main computer room where Ariana Richards's Lex shows off her hacker skills while Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) struggle to keep a hungry dinosaur from barging in. Just like in the film, the door features a deadbolt lock that's velociraptor-proof (though, unfortunately for the characters, the detachable window is not). Other Easter eggs hidden in this part include a map of Isla Nublar and a screener saver of LEGO Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight).

In the neighboring room, you'll find the cold storage unit where the dinosaur embryos are kept, along with the fake shaving cream can Nedry uses to steal them. The final section is the kitchen, where Tim (Joseph Mazzello) and Lex are stalked by the velociraptor. There's less room for them to hide in the LEGO version compared to the movie set, but there is at least one functioning cabinet for Lex to tuck herself into. Closer inspection reveals even more details from the film, like the lime-green Jello Lex is eating when the raptors first arrive and the step ladder the gang uses to escape into the air ducts during the final chase.

LEGO Jurassic Park set.

LEGO Jurassic Park set.

LEGO Jurassic Park set.

The Jurassic Park Velociraptor Chase set is currently available from the LEGO shop for $40.

[h/t Nerdist]

All images courtesy of LEGO.

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CHLOE EFFRON / DINOSAURS: ISTOCK
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science
Why Are There No More Dinosaurs?
CHLOE EFFRON / DINOSAURS: ISTOCK
CHLOE EFFRON / DINOSAURS: ISTOCK

WHY? is our attempt to answer all the questions every little kid asks. Do you have a question? Send it to why@mentalfloss.com.

Actually, there are still dinosaurs: Birds! But let’s talk about that a little later. Scientists have found clues in rocks and fossils that tell us that by 65 million years ago, the climate (CLY-met), or usual weather, of the Earth had changed a lot, becoming cooler and drier. That was hard on the heat-loving dinosaurs. But that’s not why almost all of the dinosaurs became extinct, or disappeared forever. Scientists think a terrible event occurred that killed them off.

In 1991, scientists discovered a huge 110-mile-long crater, or hole, in the Gulf of Mexico. They think this crater was made by a giant, fiery, 6-mile-wide asteroid (AST-er-oyd) from space that smashed into the Earth about 65 million years ago. The impact was more powerful than any bomb we have ever known. Scientists believe this event killed most plant and animal life—including the dinosaurs. The asteroid probably caused shockwaves, earthquakes, fireballs, wildfires, and tidal, or really big, waves. It also sent huge amounts of dust and gas into the atmosphere, which is like a big blanket of air that surrounds the Earth. That was really bad for the planet.

The dust blocked sunlight, making the planet very cold and dark. Then, over time, the gases trapped heat, causing the Earth to get even hotter than it was before the asteroid hit. This change was deadly for most dinosaurs, and they became extinct. But birds survived. Many millions of years earlier, they had evolved (ee-VOL-ved), or changed slowly over time, from one group of dinosaurs. And when the dinosaurs disappeared, mammals diversified (die-VERSE-uh-fide), or changed, into many different kinds of animals—including us, many millions of years later. So the next time you see a bird swoop by, wave hello to the little flying dinosaur!    


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