Image by JUAN MABROMATA/AFP/Getty Images
It’s a widely held belief among humans that, no matter what your personal preferences are or where you grew up, dinosaurs are as cooler than they are scary. That much hasn’t changed. However, a recently discovered skeleton shows that clearly, there was some competition regarding who could be the coolest. Discovered in Argentina back in 2013, “Bajadasaurus pronuspinax” seems to have emerged on top for having one distinct feature to flaunt around. A feature that, even to this day, we’re still having trouble figuring out exactly what it was for. But there’s one thing we do understand: it was pretty darn cool.
The most radical dinosaur finally discovered
Like an anarchist from the ’90s, this dinosaur has a row of long and scary spikes on its head. A true, “liberty spikes” mohawk. It looks ready to cause some property damage in the name of overcoming government tyranny already. There are a number of theories to explain what these giant spikes were for, but first: some explanation on how this thing came about. Discovered in Patagonia, the skull and spine of this beast were the first telltale signs that something new had been found. Later, the dino was found to be a part of the Sauropod family, but it gets a little more complicated than that.
You see, this dinosaur belonged to a specific group of dinosaurs within the Sauropod family known as the Dicraeosauridae (I can’t pronounce it either). It’s believed that all the dinosaurs belonging to this group have similar ridges of spikes along their heads and necks. But what purpose did these serve? There are a multitude of ideas, the most popular of which being that they were used to ward off predators. Like a big dino-cactus, the idea was that a predator would see Bajadasaurus and walk away because they didn’t want a mouthful of spikes.
They look cool, but why are they there in the first place?
Another hypothesis that attempts to explain the strange spikes is that the spikes are actually a thermoregulation device for the animal; a webbed sail that allowed it to cool off in hotter temperatures. Some even think the spikes may have been used to hold up a giant hump of flesh, which I refuse to believe is the case— mainly because it would be saying that instead of rocking some liberty spikes, this thing would’ve had a giant jiggly hump on its head while it walked around, struggling to keep its balance. That would be so anticlimactic. It’s also unlikely, considering that the spikes probably wouldn’t have been able to support the weight.
If the name “Bajadasaurus” sounds like there’s some Spanish in there, that’s because there is. “Bajada” is Spanish for “downhill,” a reference to the site where the bones were found. Regarding the spikes, one thing’s for certain: they’re too thin to have been just skin and bone, suggesting there was some kind of other shielding. This adds credibility to the flesh-hump hypothesis, but I’m still not ready to believe it. It still doesn’t disprove that the spikes could’ve been a defense mechanism. In fact, a researcher has stated that they were probably protected by a sheathing of some kind, like the horns of an antelope.
Nevertheless, theorizing continues. It’s still cool to think that there was a dinosaur walking around with a giant mohawk at some point, though. And by some point, I actually mean close to 140 million years ago. If there ever is a real Jurassic Park, I’d definitely pay money to see this thing. It wouldn’t be doing much, though; it’s an herbivore, so it would probably just sit around eating leaves and sleeping. That takes away from the cool factor a little. But hey, it’s got a mohawk, so I’m satisfied.