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Re: Complete juvenile theropod unveiled in Germany
The possibility that many of our small "coelurosaurs" are actually juveniles of
larger non-coelurosaur taxa certainly bolsters Horner's claims that
paleontology's current view of dinosaur biodiversity is grossly over-inflated
by ontogenetic stages misidentified as distinct taxa. I think I remember David
Unwin's pterosaur book describing pterosaur ecosystems as having low taxonomic
diversity because juveniles occupied the ecological niches that would otherwise
be taken by distinct small species. Maybe theropods had a similar life cycle.
Tyrannosaur ontogeny supports the general idea; young tyrannosaurs had sharper
more blade-like teeth and more cursorial body types than adult suggesting
different prey preferences and therefore different niches. That's not
suggesting, of course, that all small theropods were just juveniles of some
larger form, and earlier commenters suggesting that the new find is a typical
Juravenator-type compsognathid rather than a baby
megalosaur could turn out right. I'm just musing here.