January 15, 2008

Sexual Maturity of Dinos Could Open Doors

Medullary tissue lines the bones of modern birds for only a few weeks when they are producing eggs. That same tissue has recently been found in three dinosaur fossils. These dinosaurs, an Allosaurus, Tenontosaurus and Tyrannosaurus, were aged 8, 10, and 18. This revelation shines some light on the sexuality of dinosaurs, with reproductive maturity being earlier than researchers previously believed.

Sarah Werning and Andrew Lee, graduate students at the University of California, Berkely, when the work was done examined the medullary bones of these dinosaurs.

Werning said that this new revelation could allow scientists to pinpoint the age of reproductive maturity for dinosaurs. This would open up "so many complementary avenues of dinosaur research," according to Werning. Similar techniques could be used in studying other extinct animals.

The research was conducted by U.C. Berkeley's Department of Integrative Biology, the Jurassic Foundation, the University of Oklahoma Graduate Student Senate, the Paleontological Society, and the Geological society of America.

Kevin Padian, a professor of integrative biology, the students' advisor, and a curator in U.C. Berkeley's Museum of Paleontology states, "This is an exciting finding, because age at sexual maturity is related to so many things."


On the Net:

PNAS: http://www.pnas.org

Photo Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Field_dinos_2.jpg