Paleohistologists diagnose Triceratops battle wound

(ORDO NEWS) — Italian scientists analyzed the histological structure of the bone around the hole on the collar of the Triceratops and came to the conclusion that it was left by the horn of his congener.

Their findings support the notion that Triceratops fought each other. The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.

The muzzle of the Triceratops, like many other ceratopsians, was decorated with a massive bone collar and horns.

Paleontologists suggest that they were used both for demonstrations and for battles between relatives – while the collar was supposed to protect the neck from injury.

This, for example, can be indicated by a hole in the collar of one of the largest Triceratops specimens, nicknamed Big John. However, this hole could be a pathology associated with aging, or it could have occurred after death.

Italian scientists led by Ruggero D’Anastasio from the Gabriele D’Annunzio University in Chieti and Pescara decided to establish the origin of this mysterious hole. To do this, they performed a histological analysis of the bone around the hole.

The results showed that the bone tissue at the time of death was metabolically active. The researchers found in it a large number of vascular channels, as well as Howship gaps, indicating the restructuring of bone tissue.

At the same time, the bone tissue far from the hole did not show metabolic activity and was highly mineralized.

In addition, the scientists analyzed the elemental composition of the bone tissue around the hole. It turned out that oxygen, calcium and phosphorus dominated in it, and in addition to them, the researchers also found sulfur.

The first three elements are present in hydroxyapatite, the main mineral component of bone. And sulfur is found, in particular, in glycosaminoglycans – substances that are necessary for osteogenesis.

The authors’ results indicate that the hole in the collar was a healing wound. Judging by the size and shape of the hole, Big John was injured by another Triceratops, which apparently attacked him from behind.

Researchers believe that it is difficult to determine how long Big John lived after the injury. However, indirect evidence suggests that he died at least six months later.

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