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Evidence for gregarious behavior and age segregation in sauropod dinosaurs

Timothy S. Myers & Anthony R. Fiorillo. 2009. Evidence for gregarious behavior and age segregation in sauropod dinosaurs. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 274, 96-104


Both body fossil and ichnofossil evidence for gregarious behavior in sauropod dinosaurs is examined. Some localities suggest that herds were partitioned on the basis of age, whereas other sites reveal groups consisting of both adult and juvenile/subadult individuals. Two skeletal accumulations showing evidence of age segregation are examined in detail. The Mother's Day Quarry in the Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation of Montana contains the remains of several immature diplodocoid sauropods. An assemblage in the Upper Cretaceous Javelina Formation of Big Bend National Park in Texas consists entirely of juvenile Alamosaurus. Both the Mother's Day and Big Bend assemblages are interpreted here as remnants of age-segregated herds. The differences between skeletal accumulations composed entirely of immature animals and mixed-age ichnological assemblages imply that herd composition was variable. When age segregation is recognized, in both fossil and modern taxa, it is thought to minimize the fitness costs related to behavioral synchronization within social groups. Age segregation of herds also contraindicates extended parental care as typical of at least some sauropod taxa.
© 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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