Project A1: Growth quantified
|Title||Life history and growth of sauropods|
|Principal Investigator||Dr. P. Martin Sander|
Bone histology is able to provide data on life history and growth, ideally in a quantitative fashion. If one is interested in the evolution and maintenance of gigantic body size, such data are of central importance. The project aims at obtaining such data for the common genera of the two most important sauropod faunas which are both Upper Jurassic in age, the Tendaguru Beds and the Morrison Formation. For comparative purpose, minor species from these localities are being studied as well as Upper Cretaceous titanosaurs and a small brachiosaurid from Germany. The latter is important because it is close to the lower size limit of adult sauropods, while Brachiosaurus and Supersaurus are close to the upper size limit.
For the common genera, which are represented by growth series and samples from different bones of the skeleton, we intend to establish the life history characteristic for each genus, adressing questions such as age at sexual maturity, age at cessation of growth, and maximum age. These parameters are important for understanding sauropod ecology and reproductive biology.
The same sample is also be studied for deriving growth curves for each common taxon, describing linear size increase as well as mass increase. Mass increase is the more important as these data form the foundation for modelling of sauropod physiology. Similar information will be gathered for the less well represented taxa to cover the whole size range, diversity, and ecological spectrum of sauropod dinosaurs.