Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Skin bones' helped large dinosaurs survive, new study says

Date:
November 29, 2011
Source:
University of Guelph
Summary:
Bones contained entirely within the skin of some of the largest dinosaurs on Earth might have stored vital minerals to help the massive creatures survive and bear their young in tough times, according to new research.

Bones contained entirely within the skin of some of the largest dinosaurs on Earth might have stored vital minerals to help the massive creatures survive and bear their young in tough times, according to new research by a team including a University of Guelph scientist.

Guelph biomedical scientist Matthew Vickaryous co-authored a paper published in Nature Communications about two sauropod dinosaurs -- an adult and a juvenile -- from Madagascar.

The study suggests that these long-necked plant-eaters used hollow "skin bones" called osteoderms to store minerals needed to maintain their huge skeletons and to lay large egg clutches. Sediments around the fossils show that the dinosaurs' environment was highly seasonal and semi-arid, with periodic droughts causing massive die-offs.

"Our findings suggest that osteoderms provided an internal source of calcium and phosphorus when environmental and physiological conditions were stressful," he said. As a researcher in the Department of Biomedical Sciences in Guelph's Ontario Veterinary College, Vickaryous studies how skeletons develop, regenerate and evolve.

He worked with paleontologist Kristina Curry Rogers and geologist Raymond Rogers at Macalaster College in Minnesota, and paleontologist Michael D'Emic, now at Georgia Southern University on the study. Vickaryous helped to interpret the results of CT scans and fossilized tissue cores taken from the dinosaurs.

Shaped like footballs sliced lengthwise and about the size of a gym bag in the adult, these bones are the largest osteoderms ever identified. The adult specimen's bone was hollow, likely caused by extensive bone remodelling, said Vickaryous.

Osteoderms were common among armoured dinosaurs. Stegosaurs had bony back plates and tail spikes, and ankylosaurs sported heavily armoured bodies and bony tail clubs. Today these "skin bones" appear in such animals as alligators and armadillos.

Such bones were rare among sauropod dinosaurs and have appeared only in titanosaurs. These massive plant-eaters included the largest-ever land animals. "This is the only group of long-necked sauropods with osteoderms," he said.

Other studies have shown that female titanosaurs laid dozens of volleyball-sized eggs. Modern crocodiles and alligators also lay clutches of dozens of eggs and are known to reabsorb minerals from their osteoderms.

The researchers found the new osteoderms along with two skeletons of the titanosaur Rapetosaurus. Unlike the hollow adult specimen, the juvenile specimen was solid and showed little evidence of remodelling. That suggests that osteoderms became more important mineral stores as the animals grew, Vickaryous said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Guelph. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kristina Curry Rogers, Michael D'Emic, Raymond Rogers, Matthew Vickaryous, Amanda Cagan. Sauropod dinosaur osteoderms from the Late Cretaceous of Madagascar. Nature Communications, 2011; 2: 564 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1578

Cite This Page:

University of Guelph. "'Skin bones' helped large dinosaurs survive, new study says." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 November 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111129123303.htm>.
University of Guelph. (2011, November 29). 'Skin bones' helped large dinosaurs survive, new study says. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111129123303.htm
University of Guelph. "'Skin bones' helped large dinosaurs survive, new study says." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111129123303.htm (accessed August 28, 2014).

Share This




More Fossils & Ruins News

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Minds Blown: Scientists Develop Fish That Walk On Land

Minds Blown: Scientists Develop Fish That Walk On Land

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) Canadian scientists looking into the very first land animals took a fish out of water and forced it to walk. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
40,000-Year-Old Mammoth Skeleton Found On Texas Farm

40,000-Year-Old Mammoth Skeleton Found On Texas Farm

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) A mammoth skeleton was discovered in a gravel pit on Wayne McEwen's Texas farm back in May. It's now being donated to a museum. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pawn Shop Buys Lincoln Signature For $50, Worth $50,000

Pawn Shop Buys Lincoln Signature For $50, Worth $50,000

Newsy (Aug. 25, 2014) The signature is one of a couple Lincoln autographs that have popped up recently. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Neanderthals Probably Died Out Earlier Than We Thought

Neanderthals Probably Died Out Earlier Than We Thought

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) A new study is packed with interesting Neanderthal-related findings, including a "definitive answer" to when they went extinct. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

More Coverage


Madagascar Dinosaur Bone Is Most Massive Osteoderm Ever Found

Nov. 29, 2011 What more can we learn about long-necked dinosaurs that we don't already know? Researchers have found that Madagascar dinosaurs carried giant, hollow bones in their skin that may have helped ... read more
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins