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Biology of the Sauropod Dinosaurs: The Evolution of Gigantism

In March 2004 the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft - DFG) funded the establishment of its Research Unit 533 “Biology of the Sauropod Dinosaurs: The Evolution of Gigantism”. Sauropod dinosaurs are the biggest animals to have ever inhabited the land. This Unit is researching, through a highly interdisciplinary approach, how these animals functioned as a living organism and the conditions which enabled their gigantism. The 13 working groups from 5 disciplines (palaeontology, zoology, animal nutrition, geochemistry and engineering science) are investigating the various aspects of the evolution, life history, physiology and biomechanics of the sauropods. In 2010, we published a comprehensive hypothesis explaining the unique gigantism of sauropod dinosaurs. The publication is available for free here.

Research Unit 533 is spread over different locations in Germany and Switzerland, with the project coordinator and administration based at the Steinmann Institute for Geology, Mineralogy and Paleontology, University of Bonn. Four of the working groups are based at Bonn while others are located in Berlin, Bochum, Düsseldorf, Flensburg, Frankfurt, Mainz, Munich, and Zurich. The first funding period (2004-2007) and the second funding period (2007-2010) were supported by a grant totalling 3.4 Million Euros. Since 2010, we are in the third and final funding period of the Research Unit. Our aim for the third funding period is to test our gigantism hypothesis.


Project Coordinator : Prof. Dr. P. Martin Sander
Steinmann Institute for Geology, Mineralogy and Palaeontology, Bonn University, Germany

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