Penn researchers are at it again. Adding to a list of impressive feats like discovering the moon, scientists at Penn have now solved an age-old question: did dinosaurs like to cuddle?
"We can now definitely say that they did," said Gerald Houser, the Abraham C. Perelman Distinguished Professor in Archaeological Sciences, whose team published their major breakthrough last week. "For years, I've been studying this question. I devoted my dissertation to it back in the sixties. I've finally achieved my life goal."
Houser says he and several postdocs scoured the fossil record for dinosaur bones from different organisms were found together. "Perhaps these mighty creatures perished while snuggling together on a cold winter night," he said. This process alone took several years to complete, during which time a few members of the group quit. "There were irreconcilable differences," Houser recalled sadly. "I found out they were actually trying to prove that dinosaurs didn't cuddle. They were trying to undercut my life's work!"
The team also analyzed skeletons of known dinosaurs for physical features that might aid in cuddling. Large heads, long necks, and flexible limbs tended to be characteristic of good cuddlers, while spines or armor — think Stegosaurus or Ankylosaurus — would dissuade certain species.
"Overall, the evidence was overwhelming," said Houser, whose research group has millions of dollars in grant funds. "Dinosaurs cuddled. But so many questions remain. Did they usually cuddle with only a few others, or would they cuddle with anyone? Was cuddling usually romantic, familial, or friendly in nature? Most intriguing of all, did they spoon?"