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Stygimoloch spinifer  (Galton and Sues, 1983)

Name Means: "Demon from the river Styx" Length: 10 feet (3 m)
Pronounced: Stig-ee-Moe-lok Weight: 440 pounds (200 kilos)
When it lived: Late Cretaceous - 70 MYA Family: Pachycephalosauridae
Where found: Montana, Wyoming, USA    
     A member of the same family that includes the better-known Pachycephalosaurus , this dinosaur was smaller and had a skull that wasn't quite as thick. Stygimoloch was originally discovered in the late 1800s, but there were very few fossils.  More were discovered in in 1982, making a formal description possible.  In 1995, fossil hunter Mike Triebold found a complete skeleton of this fascinating dinosaur. This was a remarkable find as before his discovery, no member of the pachycephalosaur family had been discovered with both the head and body together. His find showed that this dinosaur could never have butted heads like many had thought. If it did, it would probably have broken its neck!
    The ring of horns that encircled its thick skull was probably used for display and it may have been used as a club for hitting others of its own kind during courtship. It is not likely that it could have been used as a serious weapon.
   Stygimoloch is an interesting dinosaur for a number of reasons. Although it lived in the late Cretaceous, it had a number of primitive characteristics. It had five fingers, it had teeth similar to Stegosaurus in the back of its mouth, but the front was filled with sharp incisors similar to a carnivore. All of the remains that had been previously found were misidentified as those from a Pachycephalosaurus. In fact, even Triebold's specimen was initially misidentified as Pachycephalosaurus.
   Stygimoloch was a thick-skulled plant-eating dinosaur (a pachycephalosaur) that walked on two legs. This unusual-looking dinosaur had bony spikes and bumps on its skull; the many horns ranged up to 4 inches (100 mm) long. Pachycephalosaurs probably engaged in head-butting both as a defense and as intra-species rivalry.
   Most dinosaur names come from Greek and Latin, as does the beginning of Stygimoloch's name, but the ending -moloch is from Hebrew.   Some people (including those who named it) think that Stygimoloch is demonic-looking, although the name actually refers to the Hell Creek formations, where its fossils have been found.

 

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