Osteohistology of a Triassic dinosaur population reveals highly variable growth trajectories typified early dinosaur ontogeny

Daniel E. Barta, Christopher T. Griffin, Mark A. Norell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Intraspecific variation in growth trajectories provides a fundamental source of variation upon which natural selection acts. Recent work hints that early dinosaurs possessed elevated levels of such variation compared to other archosaurs, but comprehensive data uniting body size, bone histology, and morphological variation from a stratigraphically constrained early dinosaur population are needed to test this hypothesis. The Triassic theropod Coelophysis bauri, known from a bonebed preserving a single population of coeval individuals, provides an exceptional system to assess whether highly variable growth patterns were present near the origin of Dinosauria. Twenty-four histologically sampled individuals were less than a year to at least four years old and confirm the right-skewed age distribution of the Coelophysis assemblage. Poor correlations among size, age, and morphological maturity strongly support the presence of unique, highly variable growth trajectories in early dinosaurs relative to coeval archosaurs and their living kin.

Original languageEnglish
Article number17321
JournalScientific Reports
Volume12
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 15 Oct 2022

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