Dinosaurs continue to be the source of amazement beyond all expectations. Now is the turn of sauropods, with the newly described South American dicraeosaurid Bajadasaurus. If you thought that the elongated cervical spines along the neck of Amargasaurus were a bit too much (and source of a lot of controversy)… think again while looking at Bajadasaurus: Same spines but twisted, facing permanently forward!
The authors of the paper portray Bajadasaurus spines as defence/offence structures. However looking at it at a glance, those spines look extremely long, thin and fragile and not horn cores as they have been described. Imagining a neck-to-neck combat of two Bajadasaurus is easy to expect the spines shattered to pieces… this is no porcupine… it is a several tonne-long-necked animal, A sizeable theropod wouldn’t have been impaled by the horns either. This may have implications also for Amargasarus... Remember this old illustration?Were the elongated vertebral spines really covered in keratin and used as “horns” or were they props for a fantastic double dorsal neck sail that served as display, swinging from one side to another? If we think about it: a theropod would have also been extremely impressed by such expanded neck, probably ornate with strips of colour for effect.
I see the option I’m depicting more feasible: It would have been indeed a fantastic display if they were sporting forward facing sails, tipped with pointy keratin sheaths, like exaggerated Trojan Horse manes. I can’t picture them as some sort of antelopes, unless the horns were exclusively for rattling noisy displays.
The paper is here. The controversy continues…. and our fascination for the Dinosauria never wanes!