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From: Ben Creisler
New online paper:
Kristina Curry Rogers, Michael D'Emic, Raymond Rogers, Matthew Vickaryous,
Amanda Cagan (2011)
Sauropod dinosaur osteoderms from the Late Cretaceous of Madagascar.
Nature Communications (2011) 2: article 564
Osteoderms are bones embedded within the dermis, and are common to select
members of most major tetrapod lineages. The largest known animals that bear
osteoderms are members of Titanosauria, a diverse clade of sauropod dinosaurs.
Here we report on two titanosaur osteoderms recovered from the Upper Cretaceous
Maevarano Formation of Madagascar. Each osteoderm was discovered in association
with a partial skeleton representing a distinct ontogenetic stage of the
titanosaur Rapetosaurus krausei. Combined, these specimens provide novel
insights into the arrangement and function of titanosaur osteoderms. Taphonomic
data confirm that Rapetosaurus developed only limited numbers of osteoderms in
its integument. The adult-sized osteoderm is the most massive integumentary
skeletal element yet discovered, with an estimated volume of 9.63 litres.
Uniquely, this specimen possesses an internal cavity equivalent to more than
half its total volume. Large, hollow
osteoderms may have functioned as mineral stores in fecund, rapidly growing
titanosaurs inhabiting stressed environments.