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Dinosaur lactation?



From: Ben Creisler
bcreisler@gmail.com

A new paper not mentioned yet:

Paul L. Else (2013)
Dinosaur lactation?
Journal of Experimental Biology 216: 347-351
doi: 10.1242/jeb.065383
http://jeb.biologists.org/content/216/3/347.abstract


Lactation is a process associated with mammals, yet a number of birds
feed their newly hatched young on secretions analogous to the milk of
mammals. These secretions are produced from various sections (crop
organ, oesophageal lining and proventriculus) of the upper digestive
tract and possess similar levels of fat and protein, as well as added
carotenoids, antibodies and, in the case of pigeons and doves,
epidermal growth factor. Parental care in avian species has been
proposed to originate from dinosaurs. This study examines the
possibility that some dinosaurs used secretory feeding to increase the
rate of growth of their young, estimated to be similar to that of
present day birds and mammals. Dinosaur ‘lactation’ could also have
facilitated immune responses as well as extending parental protection
as a result of feeding newly hatched young in nest environments. While
the arguments for dinosaur lactation are somewhat generic, a case
study for lactation in herbivorous site-nesting dinosaurs is
presented. It is proposes that secretory feeding could have been used
to bridge the gap between hatching and establishment of the normal
diet in some dinosaurs.