This animal turned out to be an incredible specimen located within the marginocephalous paquicephalosaurids, which developed all its existence in a territory in America, precisely in the northern area of such territory.
Its official name has a similar meaning to the following: Stygian Thorned Devil.
It inhabited the Earth more than 66 million years ago and was found in the formations of Hell Creek and Lance, two formations, let us remember clearly, are located in the western zone of what today we know as the country of the United States of America. These formations are known worldwide because remains of Tyrannosaurus and Triceratops among others were found in them, but they are the most important formations in the United States.
Taxonomy of the Stygimoloch
It can be seen in the following table:
- This animal is located within the Animalia Kingdom
- Phylum or division: Chordata
- He belongs to the Sauropside Class
- Inside the Superorder Dinosauria
- He belongs to the Order Ornithischia
- The suborder of this animal is Neornithischia
- Within the Pachycephalosauria Infraorder
- Belongs to the Homalocephaloid Superfamily
- The family of this animal is Pachycephalosauridae
A quality of this animal is that it lived in groups, so it greatly favored group protection and increased the survival rate.
The physical characteristics of the Stygimoloch consisted of 3 meters in length and 2 meters in height, so we can see an animal almost the height of a human. Its skull was almost half a meter long. That is why this terrible specimen is considered one of the largest in its family.
Although the hind limbs were not very robust, they allowed the Stygimoloch to run and bear its weight, and together with a rigid tail to keep its balance when travelling long distances at high speed. In contrast, its forelegs were shorter but it could use them nimbly or to hold on. It was a bipedal animal, only standing on its hind legs, but it could use its front legs to, for example, get up from the ground in a similar way as we do now.
On its extremities we can notice the existence of a total of 4 toes, which appear both in the front and in the back extremities.
Additionally, this specimen presented a quality that differentiated it to a great extent from other contemporary animals. This specimen presented in the head zone (rounded skull zone) two structures that looked like horns, which had the main function of differentiating themselves at a social level (differentiation of hierarchy within the group) and at a sexual level (sexual attraction of their reproduction with the females of their herd).
The bony elements of the Stygimoloch’s skull were approximately 25cm thick, so they were quite solid and resistant bones. It is even clearly mentioned that it could withstand several blows without suffering any damage to the animal’s internal organs, although some recent studies seem to indicate that it would not have had as many skull-to-skull shock fights as have been seen in documentaries and films, so its fights would not be like those of today’s buffaloes or wildebeests.
Among all the specimens that we find in the family of pachycephalosaurus, only the Pachycephalosaurus was bigger than the Stygimoloch, a quite interesting fact if we wanted to know the most important details of today’s main specimen.
If we continue to compare this animal with other specimens placed inside the pachycephalosaurids, the skull of the great Stygimoloch turned out to have the shape of a small vault, in addition to having a flattened surface in each lateral area of such skull.
In addition, the horns mentioned above were located in the back of the skull, horns which, by the way, were of considerable size, measuring up to 15 centimeters in length, with an average diameter of 5 centimeters.
Many scientists also assure that this animal used its showy horns to hit each other with other males of its herd, so that the strongest and most resistant one managed to stay with the females, but let’s remember that this fact is in doubt, something that you can read at the entrance of the Pachycephalosaurus.
However, this is something that has not yet been proven since it has not been determined if the injuries that those horns present are due to the collision of other horns or is due to injuries caused in a fight for life and death, a fight that probably occurred with other different animals.
Stygimoloch in our culture
If we have ever seen several Disney films, we have surely noticed the presence of this exemplary Stygimoloch, which can be seen in “Disney Dinosaur”.
In addition, we can see the presence of this specimen in a series called “Dinotren”, also known as “Dinosaur Train”, in which the history of one of these animals is represented, and we can see in the form of a caricature the life of this specimen from its childhood to its maturity. On this occasion the Stygimoloch has the name of Spikey, a quite interesting and entertaining story, especially for the little ones at home.
Additionally, the presence of this specimen has been detected in a not so famous series called under the name of Dino Dan.
Last but not least, the team responsible for creating and designing these characters, known as Pokémon from the famous Game Freak, used the structure and appearance of the great Stygimoloch to create one of the most powerful characters in the series, the incredible Rampardos.
On the other hand, some researchers even suggested that the horns of this specimen were also used for hunting, however, it is an argument that has not been proven, as well as other arguments, so this type of statements are taken only as a reference and not as an absolute truth, the controversy about these structures and their secret functions has not yet been resolved.
Related content: if you want to read more about dinosaurs with horns on their heads you can visit this article.