A newly discovered species of dinosaur with a crest on its skull, similar to the casque found on the head of cassowaries - a flightless bird found in Queensland, Australia, is described in a study published in Scientific Reports. Based on the morphological similarities of the crest in both species, the authors suggest that cassowaries may provide clues to the functional role the casque played.
Junchang Lu and colleagues describe a new species of oviraptorid (bird-like) dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous (approximately 100-66 million years ago) found in Jiangxi Province, China. The new species, Corythoraptor jacobsi, bears a distinct cassowary-like crest and long neck, and is similar in morphology to the modern cassowary. The authors suggest that this specimen was at least eight years old, and corresponds to a young adult that had not fully grown.
Based on the similarities of the inner structure of the casque of Corythoraptor compared to that of modern cassowaries, the authors suggest that it may have served a similar purpose. They argue that the crest was a multifunctional structure, used in display, communication, and may have served as an expression of fitness during mating season.