Holly N. Woodward, Thomas H. Rich & Patricia Vickers-Rich (2018)
The bone microstructure of polar "hypsilophodontid" dinosaurs from Victoria, Australia.
Scientific Reports 8, Article number: 1162 (2018)
High-latitude (i.e., âpolarâ) Mesozoic fauna endured months of twilight and relatively low mean annual temperatures. Yet non-avian dinosaurs flourished in this taxing environment. Fossils of basal ornithopod dinosaurs ("hypsilophodontids") are common in the Early Cretaceous high-latitude sediments of Victoria, Australia, and four taxa have been described; although their ontogenetic histories are largely unexplored. In the present study, eighteen tibiae and femora were utilized in the first multi-specimen ontogenetic histological analysis of Australian polar hypsilophodontids. The sample consists of eleven individuals from the Flat Rocks locality (Late Valanginian or Barremian), and five from the Dinosaur Cove locality (Albian). In both groups, growth was most rapid during the first three years, and skeletal maturity occurred between five and seven years. There is a weak asymptotic trend in a plot of growth mark count versus femur length, with considerable individual variation. Histology suggests two genera are present within the Dinosaur Cove sample, but bone microstructure alone could not distinguish genera within the Flat Rocks sample, or across the two geologically separate (~ 26âMa) localities. Additional histologic sampling, combined with morphological analyses, may facilitate further differentiation between ontogenetic, individual, and species variation.