“The elaborate frills and horns of a group of dinosaurs including Triceratops and Styracosaurus did not evolve to help species recognise each other, according to researchers at Queen Mary University of London.
It has been suggested that different species that live in the same location may evolve features in order to distinguish one another to help avoid problems such as hybridisation, where two individuals of different species produce infertile or unfit offspring.
To test this hypothesis the researchers examined patterns of diversity in the ornamentation of 46 species of ceratopsians, the horned dinosaurs, but found no difference between species that lived together and those that lived separately.
A previous research paper from Queen Mary found that the frill in one ceratopsian species, Protoceratops, may have evolved under sexual selection. These new findings appear to add evidence to this across the entire group.
The researchers also found evidence that ornamental traits seemed to evolve at a much faster rate than other traits. As these structures are costly to grow and maintain, this finding similarly points to a strong selective pressure on these traits.
The study was published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B”.