|Skin Patches from Saurolophus angustirostris (A,B,&D) and Edmontosaurus annectens (C)|
The study was started by Dr.Phil R. Bell, a scientist at University of Alberta that wanted to try something nobodies ever done before; Compare the skin impressions of two species of dinosaur and try to see if he could tell them apart through the patterns in the skin, and not by using bones. This was monumental, as nobody had ever done this before, and it's given us some great new insights to Dinosaur appearances.
He decided to work on the two valid species of Saurolophus; S. angustirostris (from Mongolia) and S. osborni (from Alberta), and mapped the location of skin on certain areas of the body to try to find differences in texture. Normally, differences in the texture of modern reptile scales typically indicates differences in color pattern, thus we would expect the same for dinosaurs. After mapping the locations of the different types of scales on a representation of the animal, he found a pattern.
|Lighter area shows where skin impressions were taken from|
S. osborni (top) and S. angustirostris (bottom)
*My bad. Turns out that I made a boo-boo there. They don't have bird-like scales on their feet, instead, and perhaps more interestingly, they're covered in reticulae, which are found on the underside of bird feet. I thank Matt Martyniuk for pointing that out on an awesome blog post that he made concerning the scales on dinosaur feet. Be sure to check it out on DinoGoss. :)
By using these models and examining differences between scales in different body areas, he was able to make the most accurate reconstruction of Saurolophus yet:
|Differences between the skin of S. osborni (A) & S. angustirostris (B)|
Even more exciting is that, in the future, we might be able to distinguish differences between male and female, and even differences with age for all kinds of dinosaurs. But until then, I expect the next Saurolophus I see in a book to either have stripes or mottled pattern on it. Same goes or any documentaries or movies. X)
For anyone who's interested in reading the full article on PLoS:
Until next time, stay sharp as a Raptor's Talon!