Plates of the Dinosaur Stegosaurus: Forced Convection Heat Loss Fins?

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Science  11 Jun 1976:
Vol. 192, Issue 4244, pp. 1123-1125
DOI: 10.1126/science.192.4244.1123


It is suggested that the plates along the arched back and tail of Stegosaurus served an important thermoregulatory function as forced convection "fins." Wind tunnel experiments on finned models, internal heat conduction calculations, and direct observations of the morphology and internal structure of stegosaur plates support this hypothesis, demonstrating the comparative effectiveness of the plates as heat dissipaters, controllable through input blood flow rate, temperature, and body orientation (with respect to wind).

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