Researchers have found that Rapetosaurus - one of the species of plant-eating titanosaurs - were born with adult like proportions and were more independent than other species of dinosaurs.
Titanosaurs were the plant-eating dinosaurs which lived about 67 million years ago and were the largest creatures ever to walk on Earth. Some of its species could grow up to 50 feet long.
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Researchers have recently examined the fossil bones of a rare baby titanosaur discovered in Madagascar. The baby dinosaur is a Rapetosaurus krausei, one of the species of titanosaur and it provides new insight into the early life of these large dinosaurs.
The tiny creature apparently starved to death during a drought just few weeks after hatching from its eggs. Fossil analysis reveals that the baby titanosaurs were precious and unlike other animals. They were pretty much ready to walk and live on their own from the moment they hatched from eggs.
When the baby was hatched from its soccer-ball size egg, it was just 3.4 kilograms. At the end of its life which was cut short by unfortunate event, it weighted 40 kilograms and was 35 cm tall.
“When we find sauropod bones, they are usually big. Even juveniles can be bigger than cows. This is our first opportunity to explore the life of a sauropod just after hatching, at the earliest stage of life.” Lead researcher Professor Kristi Curry Rogers from Macalester College said in a statement.
Researchers used cutting edge micro-CT scanner to get a closer look at the microscopic features of the fossil bones and reconstruct the history of the giant creatures. Researchers found that baby titanosaurs were born with adult-like proportions and were quite independent compared to other species.
“There is no doubt that these baby titanosaurs would have had some of the features we would normally associate with cuteness or baby-ness: short snout, large eyes, big head for a body like puppy.” Luis Chiappe, director of the Dinosaur Institute at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, was not involved in the study told Washington Post. But they were certainly not that kind of kids that are just sitting in the nests and waiting for their parents to bring food for them.
Bone analysis reveals that baby titanosaurs were like miniature version of their larger dinosaurs from the moment they hatched and therefore they received very little care from their parents which is unlike many other species of dinosaurs.
“We looked at the preserved patterns of blood supply, growth cartilages at the ends of the limb bones and at bone remodeling. These features indicate that Rapetosaurus grew as rapidly as a newborn mammal,” said Curry Rogers.
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“Baby Rapetosauruses were around five pounds when they hatched. From there, they were on their own, foraging and making their way – or not – in a pretty tough ecosystem.”