Navigation Links
Dinosaur skull changed shape during growth

ANN ARBOR, Mich.---The skull of a juvenile sauropod dinosaur, rediscovered in the collections of Pittsburgh's Carnegie Museum of Natural History, illustrates that some sauropod species went through drastic changes in skull shape during normal growth.

University of Michigan paleontologists John Whitlock and Jeffrey Wilson, along with Matthew Lamanna from the Carnegie Museum, describe their find in the March issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

The fossil offers a rare chance to look at the early life history of Diplodocus, a 150 million-year-old sauropod from western North America.

"Adult sauropod skulls are rare, but juvenile skulls are even rarer," said Whitlock, a doctoral candidate in the U-M Museum of Paleontology. "What we do know about the skulls of sauropods like Diplodocus has been based entirely on adults so far."

"Diplodocus had an unusual skull," said Wilson, an assistant professor in the Department of Geological Sciences and an assistant curator at the U-M Museum of Paleontology. "Adults had long, square snouts, unlike the rounded or pointed snouts of other sauropods. Up until now, we assumed juveniles did too."

The small Diplodocus skull, however, suggests that major changes occurred in the skull throughout the animal's life.

"Although this skull is plainly that of a juvenile Diplodocus, in many ways it is quite different from those of the adults," Whitlock said. "Like those of most young animals, the eyes are proportionally larger, and the face is smaller. What was unexpected was the shape of the snoutit appears to have been quite pointed, rather than square like the adults. This gives us a whole new perspective on what these animals may have looked like at different points in their lives."

The researchers believe these changes in skull shape may have been tied to feeding behavior, with adults and juveniles eating different foods to avoid competition. Young Diplodocus, with their narrower snouts, may also have been choosier browsers, selecting high quality plant parts.

The discovery also highlights the importance of museum collections for paleontological research.

"Fossils like this are a great example of why natural history museums like ours put so much time and effort into caring for our collections, said Lamanna, an assistant curator of vertebrate paleontology at Carnegie Museum of Natural History. "This little Diplodocus skull was discovered in 1921, and more than 80 years passed before we recognized its significance. If the Carnegie Museum hadn't preserved it for all that time, the important insight it has provided into the growth and ecology of this dinosaur would have been lost."

The actual juvenile Diplodocus skull, as well as a fully restored, mounted skeleton of an adult, is on display in Carnegie Museum of Natural History's "Dinosaurs in Their Time" exhibition.


Contact: Nancy Ross-Flanigan
University of Michigan

Related biology news :

1. New dinosaur species found in Montana
2. Emory paleontologist reports discovery of carnivorous dinosaur tracks in Australia
3. Dinosaur from Sahara ate like a mesozoic cow
4. Massive dinosaur discovered in Antarctica sheds light on life, distribution of sauropodomorphs
5. Unusual fish-eating dinosaur had crocodile-like skull
6. Seismic images show dinosaur-killing meteor made bigger splash
7. New dinosaur from Mexico offers insights into ancient life on West America
8. Quantum weirdness, parallel worlds, dinosaur poop, and the ultimate fate of the universe...
9. Grand Canyon may be as old as dinosaurs, says new study
10. Medical College researchers find dinosaur clues in fat
11. Genetic sequencing of protein from T. rex bone confirms dinosaurs link to birds
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Dinosaur skull changed shape during growth
(Date:11/17/2015)... Mass. , Nov. 17, 2015 Pressure ... leader in the development and sale of broadly enabling, ... worldwide life sciences industry, today announced it has received ... its $5 million Private Placement (the "Offering"), increasing the ... $4,025,000.  One or more additional closings are expected in ...
(Date:11/12/2015)... , Nov. 12, 2015  Arxspan has entered ... MIT and Harvard for use of its ArxLab ... management tools. The partnership will support the institute,s ... and chemical research information internally and with external ... used for managing the Institute,s electronic laboratory notebook, ...
(Date:11/10/2015)... , Nov. 10, 2015  In ... on the basis of product, type, application, ... included in this report are consumables, services, ... report are safety biomarkers, efficacy biomarkers, and ... this report are diagnostics development, drug discovery ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/30/2015)... , Nov. 30, 2015  AbbVie, is introducing ... that focuses on a daily routine for managing the ... their medication can affect the way the body absorbs ... to their a daily routine are important. The goal ... help patients better manage their hypothyroidism by establishing a ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... 2015  Northwest Biotherapeutics (NASDAQ: NWBO ) ("NW ... therapies for solid tumor cancers, announced today that the ... and the Company welcomes Neil Woodford,s call ... anonymous internet report on NW Bio.  The Company,s Board ... Powers stated, "We agree with Mr. Woodford that, ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... and PETACH TIKVAH, Israel , Nov. ... BCLI ), a leading developer of adult stem cell ... Brainstorm Cell Therapeutics Ltd., has been awarded an additional grant ... of the Chief Scientist (OCS). This grant, the second this ... 2015 activities to approximately $1.8 million (approximately NIS7 million).  ...
(Date:11/27/2015)... CHESTERFIELD, United Kingdom , Nov. 27, 2015 /PRNewswire/--  ... specialty biopharmaceutical company, announced today that it has closed ... systems (CMDS) business to Guerbet (GBT- NYSE Euronext) in ... CMDS operations encompassed four manufacturing facilities and a total ... nearly 75 in the St. Louis ...
Breaking Biology Technology: