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RE: Massospondylus embryos discovered

Thomas R. Holtz, Jr. wrote:

Paper out later today in Science.

Yep, here 'tis:

Reisz, R.R., Scott, D., Sues, H.-D., Evans, D.C., and Raath, M.A. (2005). Embryos of an early Jurassic prosauropod dinosaur and their evolutionary significance. Science 309: 761-764.

"Articulated embryos from the Lower Jurassic Elliot Formation of South Africa are referable to the prosauropod _Massospondylus carinatus_ and, together with other material, provide substantial insights into the ontogenetic development in this early dinosaur. The large forelimbs and head and the horizontally held neck indicate that the hatchlings were obligate quadrupeds. In contrast, adult _Massospondylus_ were at least facultatively bipedal. This suggests that the quadrupedal gait of giant sauropods may have evolved by retardation of postnatal negative allometry of the forelimbs. Embryonic body proportions and an absence of well-developed teeth suggest that hatchlings of this dinosaur may have required parental care."

Fascinating stuff.  And those embryos are VERY cute.

It'd be fun to compare these guys to the juvenile _Mussaurus_ material. Although, _Mussaurus_ may not be a prosauropod...



Thomas R. Holtz, Jr. Vertebrate Paleontologist Department of Geology Director, Earth, Life & Time Program University of Maryland College Park Scholars Mailing Address: Building 237, Room 1117 College Park, MD 20742

Phone:  301-405-4084    Email:  tholtz@geol.umd.edu
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