Ways of Assessing Dinosaur Behavior
It is possible to tell general things about Dinosaur behavior from the remains that have been left behind. Bones that are close in makeup to the animals living today can provide scientists with the ability to compare what they know about certain dinosaurs to what they know about animals still living today. Other ideas about behavior rely on the habitats that the fossils were found in, the pose they were found in and computer simulations. However, a lot of the ideas about the behavior of dinosaurs rely on speculation and pure guess work.
Scientists believe that dinosaurs were governed largely by their metabolic rates. Although this can be very difficult to study due to the very little evidence we have of dinosaur behavior there are a few clues that can give scientists information about the dinosaur’s metabolism. For example Dinosaurs evolved over time and the changes in their anatomy suggests that their metabolic rates and activity level increased as they evolved.
It is also believed that the central nervous system played a huge role in the behavior of dinosaurs. If their central nervous system was more complex then it would have allowed for more behavioral flexibility on their part. The belief is that the ratio of brain size to dinosaur body weight increased as they evolved.
Discoveries of dinosaur remains in specific configurations also point to specific behaviors. The discovery of 31 Iguanodon dinosaurs in 1878 seemed to indicate herding behaviors after they appeared to have fallen into a flood sinkhole and drowned. There have also been several other mass grave sites for dinosaur remains all of which seem to indicate that herding behavior was present in dinosaurs. There is also evidence of dinosaur tracks that have been left behind that seem to indicate that animals moved together in herds. Scientists have also found intact nests and from those can infer that many dinosaurs laid eggs and that the young left the nest immediately after hatching, among other things.
It is also possible to tell a lot about dinosaurs simply from their skeletons. Scientists can often tell a lot about the mating rituals or dinosaurs from the shapes of their skeletons. For example pachycephalosaurs had thickened skull caps which scientists attribute to mating contests that involved the bashing of heads between the males. Similar adornments such as horns may also have been used in mating competitions much like the antlers of modern day deer. Although much of this is guesswork the facts remain that the goal of any species is to procreate and any body parts unnecessary for survival most likely played a role in mating.