Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Madagascar dinosaur bone is most massive osteoderm ever found

Date:
November 29, 2011
Source:
Macalester University
Summary:
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 them survive the harsh environments they inhabited. This discovery has shed new light on the anatomy and function of these bones in the biggest animals to ever walk on land.

Researchers have discovered bizarre, gigantic bones that grow in the skin of Rapetosaurus, a species of huge plant-eating dinosaur from the island country located in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa.
Credit: Image courtesy of Macalester University

What more can we learn about long-necked dinosaurs that we don't already know? A Macalester professor and her colleagues have found that Madagascar dinosaurs carried giant, hollow bones in their skin that may have helped them survive the harsh environments they inhabited. This discovery has shed new light on the anatomy and function of these bones in the biggest animals to ever walk on land.

Biology/Geology Prof. Kristi Curry Rogers is the lead author of a paper in Nature Communications about bizarre, gigantic bones that grow in the skin of Rapetosaurus, a species of huge plant-eating dinosaur from the island country located in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa.

"This is the biggest osteoderm ever found for any backboned-animal," said Curry Rogers, "The fact that it's hollow debunks all sorts of ideas about how these bones functioned in long-necked dinosaurs."

Osteoderms are bones embedded within the skin and are common among reptiles and some mammals. They create the unique pattern on the backs of crocodiles, the armor body covering on armadillos, and the distinctive plates of dinosaurs like Stegosaurus and Ankylosaurus.

Among the long-necked dinosaurs called sauropods, osteoderms are found in one globally distributed subgroup -- the Titanosauria. For more than a century, paleontologists have been trying to figure out how these weird bones were distributed in the skin of the long-necked titanosaurs and what they might have been used for. Were they for protection, like in armadillos and crocodiles? Were they for display? Could they have helped regulate body temperature?

"Knowing something about the lives of these dinosaurs, particularly in the context of the drought-prone paleoenvironment they lived in, tells us that osteoderms may have been important for storing minerals, which allowed Rapetosaurus to survive the rough times," said Curry Rogers.

Instead of the hundreds of interlocking plates in living animals with osteoderms, Rapetosaurus had only a few osteoderms in its skin. This means that they were less likely to serve as protection or as body temperature regulators.

"The discovery of these giant osteoderms provides new insights into what these bizarre structures may have done for the dinosaurs that had them," said Curry Rogers. "It helps us clarify what these Madagascar dinosaurs looked like with their skin on. Our sample also includes both adult and juvenile osteoderms, which tells us how the osteoderms changed over the lifespan of the dinosaur," said Curry Rogers.

In the vicinity of the osteoderm, the skin of Rapetosaurus would have stretched, making it in places up to seven times as thick as an elephant's skin. The bone also hollowed out over the course of the dinosaur's lifespan. So even though it was massive, in the adult dinosaur osteoderms would've actually been fairly lightweight.

Curry Rogers is the lead author of the Nature Communications paper. Her collaborators include Michael D'Emic (University of Michigan and Georgia Southern University), Raymond Rogers (Macalester College), Matthew Vickaryous (Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph), and Amanda Cagan, who graduated with a biology degree from Macalester in 2010.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Macalester University. 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:

Macalester University. "Madagascar dinosaur bone is most massive osteoderm ever found." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 November 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111129125014.htm>.
Macalester University. (2011, November 29). Madagascar dinosaur bone is most massive osteoderm ever found. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111129125014.htm
Macalester University. "Madagascar dinosaur bone is most massive osteoderm ever found." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111129125014.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Fossils & Ruins News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Did ISIS Destroy Jonah's Tomb?

Did ISIS Destroy Jonah's Tomb?

Newsy (July 25, 2014) Unverified footage posted to YouTube purportedly shows ISIS militants destroying a shrine widely believed to be the tomb of the prophet Jonah. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

AFP (July 25, 2014) Europe's highest train, the little train of Artouste in the French Pyrenees, celebrates its 80th birthday. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Richard III's Car Park Burial Site Opens to Public

Richard III's Car Park Burial Site Opens to Public

AFP (July 25, 2014) Visitors will be able to look down from a glass walkway on the grave of King Richard III when a new centre opens in the English cathedral city of Leicester, where the infamous hunchback was found under a car park in 2012. Duration: 00:35 Video provided by AFP
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


'Skin Bones' Helped Large Dinosaurs Survive, New Study Says

Nov. 29, 2011 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, ... 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