Palaeontologists Discover Dinosaur Sex Theory
Paleontologists think they have now figured out how dinosaurs had sex. That has long been a challenge for scientists, even though they have been studying the fossils for centuries. Soft tissue is rarely found in fossils and it is even more rare to find skeletons that were in the midst of copulation when they were spontaneously buried. There is also the difference in morphology between the dinosaurs and modern animals. Scientists try to understand the unknown behavior of extinct animals by inferring from what they know about animals they can observe today. Many dinosaurs were bigger than anything humans have ever seen and had features that you don’t see in current animal life making dinosaur sex something of a mystery.
How Dinosaur Genital Construction Plays in to Dinosaur Sex
Luckily for scientists, there is a feature that birds and reptiles have that dinosaurs have too, since they are related, and it provides a clue as to how they reproduced. Reptiles and birds have posterior openings called “cloaca’s”. The word comes from the Latin word meaning “sewer” and it is the only opening for the urinary, reproductive, and intestinal tract for such species. They mate by pressing their cloacas together. In some species, the male has a penis and in other species he squirts the semen into the females cloaca when they are pressed together. Scientists call it the “cloacal kiss”. If dinosaurs did have penises, they could have been very big. The Tyrannosaurus Rex would have been up to 12 feet long, according to paleontologists estimates.
When dinosaurs had sex, the male probably mounted the female from behind. That is the view of many paleontologists, such as the English paleontologist Beverly Halstead. He was noted for talking openly about dinosaur mating habits until his death in 1991. In 1988 a science magazine of the time called “Omni” published an article of his. He wrote, “All dinosaurs used the same basic position to mate. Mounting from the rear, he put his forelimbs on her shoulders, lifting one hind limb across her back and twisting his tail under hers to align the cloaca.
Can Science ever be Sure?
Scientists may never find concrete proof of the specific way that dinosaurs had sex, although some prehistoric animal specimens have been “caught in the act”. A few pairs of prehistoric turtles died while copulating, about 47 million years ago. Prehistoric insects that were having sex when they died have been found in amber and some mating sharks were fossilized 320 million years ago. In the case of these animals, it took some very special circumstances to create the very special fossils. The possibility is much higher for aquatic animals, like sharks and turtles. Either that, or the creature would have to be very small like insects. But dinosaurs lived predominantly on the ground and even the smallest dinosaur wasn’t small enough to be stuck inside amber. So paleontologists must be content with deriving some information about dinosaur sex from whatever methods they can find!