Heterodontosaurus vs Kentrosaurus
Out on an open tidal flat, in Late Jurassic Tanzania, the tropical sun shines down into shallow pools and stream outflows, the water of these waters is brackish, and the only vegetation that grows is those plants specially adapted to tolerate high salinity. These plants are sorry pickings for any herbivore, but drought conditions have driven an increasing number of dinosaurs out of the shrub covered uplands to seek what meager meals the pools might provide (Aberhan et al, 2002). Kentrosaurus is one such herbivore.
Unfortunately for Kentrosaurus, herbivores are not the only dinosaurs on the tidal flats looking for a meal. A ferocious young Veterupristisaurus has been hungrily stalking Kentrosaurus since She descended from the scrubland, and chooses this moment to go in for the kill. However, Kentrosaurus isn’t going down without a fight. Primed by her recent fight with Majungasaurus, Kentrosaurus wheels her body as the large theropod approaches, dodging and putting space between herself and her attacker. The animals face off, with Veterupristisaurus attempting to latch its teeth into, and Kentrosuarus evading while attempting to do enough damage to dissuade the predator.
It is to the sight of this vicious confrontation that Heterodontosaurus arrives from the past. He has recently survived his unexpected meeting with Giraffititan and eaten well for his trouble. With a belly full of insects making it feel slow and lethargic, Heterodontosaurus tucks itself beneath the shadow of a large boulder rather than turn tail and flee in the face of violence.
As Heterodontosaurus watches, Veterupristisaurus begins to lag, shaking from exertion and bleeding from multiple wounds. Kentrosaurus fairs no better, suffering from a deep bite to its forelimb and a gouge though the center of its left eye. With its vision impaired and its strength waning, Kentrosaurus must end this fight quickly or meet its own end. Taking a risky gamble, Kentrosaurus turns as if to run for its life, tempting the young and inexperienced Veterupristisaurus to lunge far closer than is wise. With the momentum of its turn, Kentrosaurus swings its tail to the side in an arc (Mallison, 2010) that drives the long spikes of its tail deep into the thigh muscle of Veterupristisaurus. The pain is excruciating, leaving the large theropod scrambling to free itself and escape its intended victim. Close as it might have been to bringing down the stegosaur, Veterupristisaurus has learned a valuable lesson about underestimating its intended prey.
Veterupristisaurus’ newfound humility means nothing to Kentrosaurus, who is making its arduous way across the tidal flat towards the cover of the uplands. Half blind and on high alert, every flicker of motion in the stegosaur’s peripheral vision makes the animal twitch. As Kentrosaurus passes the boulder behind which Heterodontosaurus hides, Heterodontosaurus attempts to slip away unnoticed. Unfortunately, the motion catches Kentrosaurus’s good eye and the injured stegosaur thrashes out. The very tip of the stegosaurs’ tail smacks into the legs of Heterodontosaurus, bowling the smaller animal over. A dazed Heterodontosaurus stumbles to its feet, its ego and now its hind leg are bruised. It too has learned a valuable lesson about respecting this stegosaurs’ space.