Stegosaurus landed a low blow in dino brawl

Fossil shows that allosaurus was maimed by tail spike attack

BELOW THE BELT  The tail spike on a Stegosaurus (illustrated above) has been implicated in the death of an Allosaurus 147 million years ago.

Robert Bakker

Robert Bakker

VANCOUVER — In a story worthy of CSI: Jurassic Period, researchers have solved the mystery of what killed a predatory allosaurus dinosaur 147 million years ago.

The allosaurus fossil contains a circular hole in its pelvis flanked by a well-preserved, fist-sized abscess where the infected wound spread. The only murder weapon around that time that would create the circular hole is a tail spike on a stegosaurus (model shown at left).

The plant-eating dinosaur used its flexible body to whip its barbed tail into the allosaurus’s crotch during a fight, proposed paleontologist Robert Bakker of the Houston Museum of Natural Science on October 21 at the Geological Society of America’s annual meeting. The allosaurus didn’t die right away, probably limping for weeks expelling pus, Bakker said.

The research could help scientists learn the fighting styles of the two dinos and reconstruct how the two species might have interacted.

Fossil evidence suggests that 147 million years ago a stegosaurus whipped its tail spike into an allosaurus’s crotch, as seen in this illustration. Robert Bakker

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