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Submitted on
January 12, 2013
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Prenocephale prenes by T-PEKC Prenocephale prenes by T-PEKC
Reconstruction of Prenocephale prenes, showing different types of speculative behavior and hypothetic presence of filamentous integumentary structures in pachycephalosaurs. This is my first entry for ďAll Your YesterdaysĒ contest - [link].

Prenocephale prenes is pachycephalosaurid ornithischian from the Nemegt formation (Mongolia). It was about 2.4 meters long and lived during the late Campanian, or early Maastricthian times (~ 72 million years ago). It was herbivorous animal. Here, itís shown hiding from big predator, the theropod Alioramus remotus.

The filamentous integumentary structures depicted here are speculative, but similar integumentary structures, made of beta-keratin and located mostly in the dorsal part of the torso, are found in the ceratopsian Psittacosaurus (Ceratosauria is a sister clade of Pachycephalosauria), and in the heterodontosaur Tianyulong. Both of them being ornithischian dinosaurs (former being more derived, and the latter more basal ornithischian), leave open the possibility that such structures could have been more distributed among the members of the group, and even homologous to the feathers in theropods. Reconstructing Prenocephale with filaments is my way to support the idea (itís only idea for now given the fossil material at hand and the lack of studies testing this hypothesis) that the presence of filamentous integumentary structures is a basal trait for Dinosauria.

Here, the filaments are located in between the scales, as similar arrangement of feathers and scales is known in some modern birds. This can be explained by Prumís model for feathers evolution, in which feathers (or protofeather filaments) are homologous in the embryonic stage of animalís development, and later form different types of integument, which sometimes can coexist.

The majority of the body is covered with scales, following the model seen in Triceratops Ė subrectangular scales on the ventral side of the body, and finer scales above them. Some of the scales are bigger, with oval form, and are circled by smaller scales, forming rosette-like pattern.

Itís known that at least some dinosaurs (Oryctodromeus and possibly its closest relatives) had an adaptations of digging and were able to live in dens. Similar adaptations are not known for pachycephalosaurids (as far as my knowledge goes), but many digging/denning animals have no obvious adaptations for such behavior/life style. Here, Prenocephale is using a den to hide from a predator. I wonít go as far as stating the burrow was made by the dinosaur, it may just use already existing one.

But denning is not its only protection. If some pachycephalosaurs really were able hide underground from time to time, then they could have gone even further by using mimicry. Because of the specific shape of their head - the dome structure, some of them could have used it to mimic the rocks around, thus increasing their chance to not be noticed by the predator.


Mayr, G., D. S. Peters, G. Plodowski, O. Vogel. 2002. Bristle-like integumentary structures at the tail of the horned dinosaur Psittacosaurus.- Naturwissenschaften, 89, 361-365.

Paul, G. S. 2010. The Princeton field guide to dinosaurs.- Princeton University Press (for Prenocephale skeletal drawing; as obviously seen, neither his style, nor the pose of his skeletal drawing were used in any form in my artwork).

Prum, R. O. 2003. Are current critics of the theropod origin of birds science? Rebuttal to Feduccia (2002).- The Auk, 120, 2, 550-561.

Varricchio, D. J., A. J. Martin, Y. Katsura. 2007. First trace and body fossil evidence of a burrowing, denning dinosaur.- Proceedings of Royal Society Biological Sciences, 274, 1361-1368.

Xu, X., X. Zheng, H. You. 2009. A new feather type in a nonavian theropod and the early evolution of feathers.- Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., 106, 3, 832-834.
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7908642 Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
It's like a trapdoor spider or trapdoor dinosaur rather :)
PrusseluskenHubert Featured By Owner Edited Aug 7, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Your ideas are awesome !
Falken02 Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2014
T-PEKC Featured By Owner Jul 25, 2014
Ruschman Featured By Owner May 18, 2014
I hate to disappoint you, but I hardly see why a dinosaur with long legs would be able to move in a tunnel as round as its body. the flesh tissues making up the legs and abdomen can only be squashed before muscle injury can occur. It is much like pressing two rubber balls against each other with all of your strength (which is not recommended, due to the high risk of injury).
LordOfstamps Featured By Owner Oct 13, 2014
Burrowing animals are often able to go into small places.
Ruschman Featured By Owner Oct 13, 2014
That's not a burrower.
LordOfstamps Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014
Still this is only speculation. Hypsilophodon might have even been a burrower like it's relative Oryctodromeus.
Ruschman Featured By Owner Oct 15, 2014
It would have to have flexible joints within especially its vertebra. Tails in most dinosaurs are generically stiff.
LordOfstamps Featured By Owner Oct 15, 2014
Why must you assume it would be a complex tunnel with twists and turns? It could be a simple straight on burrow.
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