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Re: Dinosaurs burrowed to keep warm

From: Lee Hall <lhall@montana.edu>
Date: Mar 20, 2007 8:44 PM
Subject: Re: Dinosaurs burrowed to keep warm
To: dannj@alphalink.com.au

I haven't read the paper itself, but apparently the robust forelimbs and
structure of the jaw may be adaptations for some sort of digging activity.
Modifications to the illium, too.

I wonder whether the tails of these
species were less stiffened than the 'average' hypsilophodontid? Going down
a burrow with a long stiffened tail would seem to indicate a one-way trip.

No ossified tendons were found.

Even if they did habitually reside down burrows, it doesn't necessarily mean they dug the burrows themselves. There are plenty of extant organisms that use second-hand burrows. Wart hogs are a good example. They can't dig an entire burrow themselves, but they can modify existing burrows abandoned by other animals and use them as shelter.

Taking into consideration the morphological similarities to Oryctodromeus and other fossorial animals, and that the burrow is a nice, tight fit for Orycto (based on measurements of the skeleton compared to burrow dimensions), it seems safe to say it excavated the burrow for itself.

Burrow-dwelling snakes can't even modify burrows at all.
Some legless lizards burrow into the substrate, as well as some toads.
Fossorial animals tend to posess thickened scales or fleshy pads on
the snout.

If a burrow were to collapse and kill everything in it, I wonder what
palaeontologists would make of the scene in the future? Neither birds nor
snakes have any obvious burrowing adaptations.

Who can answer that?

Lee Hall
Paleontology Undergraduate,
Montana State University
Bozeman, MT