Dinosaur extinction theories might follow a different path after a recent research revealed a surprising, new fact about the species.
Dinosaur species are amongst the largest animals to have roamed the Earth. However, some 66 million years ago, most of the species disappeared. The dinosaur extinction was attributed to a giant asteroid colliding with our planet.
Such an event is believed to have taken out most small, giant, warm-blooded dinosaur species. However, some have survived and turned into birds. Presently, chickens are the closest still living relatives of the once giant or non-giant animals.
As researchers have been studying the potential reasons behind the dinosaur extinction, they stumbled upon a new fact.
Research was carried out by a team of scientists from various institutions. American Museum of Natural History and University of Calgary researchers were involved.
They were led by Gregory Erickson. He is a Professor of Biological Science at the Florida State University. Their study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
They believe to have found a new clue related to the dinosaurs’ disappearance. According to them, a biological fact may have also contributed to the species’ extinction.
Erickson pointed out that little is known about their embryology. This is an area of biology that targets prenatal developments. In this case, it targeted the development of embryos, fetuses, and gametes.
Study research was based on fossilized dinosaur embryos. As these were analyzed, they helped approximate the incubation period.
As it is, the study concluded that their eggs may have taken quite some time to incubate. More exactly, the as yet shortest development period took in between three to six months.
Research data was based on the fossil’s Ebner lines. These latter are growth lines that can be noted on all the animals’ teeth.
In order to test and develop their theory, the study analyzed two types of fossilized embryos teeth. These belonged to Protoceratops and Hypacrosaurus.
Protoceratops are believed to have been around the size of a sheep. Their remains were discovered in the Gobi Desert. Hypacrosaurus are duck-billed, giant dinosaurs. Their fossils were found in Canada-based, Alberta.
The mostly tiny Protoceratops embryos were noted to take in between 3 to 6 months to develop. Giant Hypocrausaurus embryos also took 6 months.
Both their incubation periods are significantly long. This is especially true when taking into consideration the geological period.
The time’s non-avian dinosaurs’ incubation periods were similar to those of reptiles. In contrast, the avian-related species had a significantly shorter such time.
As such, the study researchers believe this to have been an important survival fact. It could help explain their slow adaptation rate to the planet’s changing conditions.
Even the smallest dinosaur species would have reportedly taken up to a year to reach maturity. This could have greatly contributed to the dinosaur extinction. As it was, their slow development would have potentially made them vulnerable.
Environmental disruptions and starvation could have greatly affected them during this period. They would have also been quite vulnerable to predators.
When compared to their cohabitants, they may have possibly also required more resources. Mammalian, reptilian, and avian species would have needed relatively few things. This could have also accounted for their survival in an asteroid-devastated world.
The aforementioned lead, Erickson, stated as follows. According to him, their long incubation period may have contributed to the dinosaur extinction. Their more significant need for resources may have also played a role.
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