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Somewhat Speculative Stegosaurus by Osmatar Somewhat Speculative Stegosaurus by Osmatar
A couple of years ago I noticed what a disservice a lot of artists do to Stegosaurus by restoring it with what could be described as a generic ornithopod head. This is an animal with a seriously interesting set of jaws that seem to work almost like an upside down goose beak, with the outer margins of the lower jaw serving as a kind of "pseudo-cheek" that overlaps the teeth of the upper jaw when closed. What is the purpose of that structure if Stegosaurus had cheeks? Unless someone can give a satisfying explanation for its function (or points out why I'm wrong in my interpretation) I'm going to restore Stegosaurus without cheeks.

But that's not the really speculative part. That would be the entirely beakless "upper lip". Stegosaurus has a weird sort of premaxilla that - as far as I can tell from photographs - does not show clear signs of a rhamphotheca and is generally rather oddly shaped. What it really reminds me of is the toothless premaxilla of a ruminant mammal. Maybe just superficial similarity, but maybe it's not and Stegosaurus had a cornified dental pad as well, with the predentary acting like the cutting front teeth of a ruminant lower jaw. Another ornithischian traditionally restored with a beak now without a beak. 

Also speculative is the integument on the head which I loosely based on other thyreophorans and... large tortoises. Now that we know chelonians were close relatives of archosaurs, maybe we can look at them for hints on how at least the armored dinosaurs may have looked. Since a lot of thyreophorans evolved cranial armor, I thought it wouldn't be outside the realm of possibilities to see some hints of this development in Stegosaurs as well.

[Disclaimer: I have not had the chance to study a Stegosaurus or a stegosaur skull first hand, and am not claiming that there is more evidence for a dental pad in stegosaurs than there is for a beak. This restoration might be entirely wrong, and was not made in an effort to change stegosaur depictions forever but to illustrate how differently the available material might be interpreted.)
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:iconpilsator:
pilsator Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Great to see you post some drawings again! I agree that Stegosaurus is a surprisingly surprising taxon despite it being that famous. I myself wondered about the presence of upper beaks in some ornithischians, but mostly those that retain premaxillary teeth.
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:iconosmatar:
Osmatar Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2016   Traditional Artist
Ornithischian premaxillae are way weirder than most people realize. In some cases there is no question that some kind of a keratinous structure was present, but it may not have been nearly as expansive as it is usually restored. My guess is that species with fully toothed premaxillae like Othnielosaurus didn't have beaks in the upper jaw at all. The ones that are harder to figure out are the ones where the premaxilla is mostly but not completely toothless, and there is very little if any indication in the bone that it was covered in keratin in life. 
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:iconbattlingbeasts:
BattlingBeasts Featured By Owner Oct 23, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
the upper lip kind of reminds me of a tapir in a way.
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:iconvincenangellis:
VincenAngellis Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2016
Looks cool.
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:iconthederpasaur:
TheDerpasaur Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
It's weird seeing a stegosaurus with out a beak. Kinda.
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:iconosmatar:
Osmatar Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2016   Traditional Artist
I know. It's easy to get so used to paleoart memes that you completely stop questioning them.
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:iconthederpasaur:
TheDerpasaur Featured By Owner Oct 23, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Yup.
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:iconhublerdon:
HUBLERDON Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Cool!
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:iconspinosaurus1:
spinosaurus1 Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
absolutely gorgeous. love the look of this chelonian inspired stegosaur.
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:icond-juan:
D-Juan Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2016  Student General Artist
Speculation on paleoart always results in more realistic animals. And so is the case here
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:iconpristichampsus:
Pristichampsus Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2016  Professional General Artist
I have seen Huayangosaurus reconstructed without a beak in an animatronic, the company of which seemed pretty reliable at the time.
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:iconosmatar:
Osmatar Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2016   Traditional Artist
While I wouldn't use an animatronic as reliable source of information, Huayangosaurus seems to have had premaxillary teeth. I think that makes a rhamphotheca pretty unlikely.
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:iconpristichampsus:
Pristichampsus Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2016  Professional General Artist
I know what you mean about animatronics, some are just horrible. But these ones were mostly good for the year they were released, the Pre-Sereno spinosaurus had the right looking teeth and face, and this was back in about 2010/2011. The Gasosaurus looked really good, but then again we still don't know what Gasosaurus is. The main bad one was that the velociraptor didn't have wing feathers, but it might have been an older sculpt from before the quill knobs were discovered. They were on average much better than the usual pig's garbage we get at these exhibitions.
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:iconosmatar:
Osmatar Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2016   Traditional Artist
Sure, but as with all paleoart, it's always someone's interpretation of the data, and we don't know how they arrived to this conclusion.
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:iconpristichampsus:
Pristichampsus Featured By Owner Oct 23, 2016  Professional General Artist
That's true.
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