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[dinosaur] Sauropod growth dynamics (free pdf)

Ben Creisler

New in PLoS ONE:

Ignacio Alejandro Cerda, Anusuya Chinsamy, Diego Pol, Cecilia Apaldetti, Alejandro Otero, Jaime Eduardo Powell & Ricardo Nestor Martínez (2017)
Novel insight into the origin of the growth dynamics of sauropod dinosaurs. 
PLoS ONE 12(6): e0179707
doi: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0179707

Sauropod dinosaurs include the largest terrestrial animals and are considered to have uninterrupted rapid rates of growth, which differs from their more basal relatives, which have a slower cyclical growth. Here we examine the bone microstructure of several sauropodomorph dinosaurs, including basal taxa, as well as the more derived sauropods. Although our results agree that the plesiomorphic condition for Sauropodomorpha is cyclical growth dynamics, we found that the hypothesized dichotomy between the growth patterns of basal and more derived sauropodomorphs is not supported. Here, we show that sauropod-like growth dynamics of uninterrupted rapid growth also occurred in some basal sauropodomorphs, and that some basal sauropods retained the plesiomorphic cyclical growth patterns. Among the sauropodomorpha it appears that the basal taxa exploited different growth strategies, but the more derived Eusauropoda successfully utilized rapid, uninterrupted growth strategies.