A major scientific discovery may tell us a big reason why dinosaurs went extinct, and it's not one you'd expect.
Scientists at Florida State University have made a big discovery that could change the way we understand the extinction of the dinosaurs. The researchers were able to figure out how long it took dinosaurs to hatch from their eggs based on their “baby teeth,” and now believe that they take as long as six months to emerge from their eggs.
That’s a big difference from what scientists had expected, which is that dinos hatched in about the same amount of time as a bird, which can be anywhere from a week and a half to three months. But instead, they probably stayed in their eggs for at least three months and as long as six months. Researchers think this may have been a contributing factor in their extinction.
Scientists based their findings on an analysis of two types of dinosaurs: Protoceratops andrewsi and Hypacrosaurus stebingeri. The former species produced some of the smallest dino eggs known to scientists, while the latter produced some of the largest.
“We know very little about dinosaur embryology, yet it relates to so many aspects of development, life history, and evolution,” said study co-author Mark Norell, Macaulay Curator of Paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History. “But with the help of advanced tools like CT scanners and high-resolution microscopy, we’re making discoveries that we couldn’t have imagined 20 years ago. This work is a great example of how new technology and new ideas can be brought to old problems.”
“These are the lines that are laid down when any animal’s teeth develops,” said lead author and Florida State University professor Gregory Erickson. “They’re kind of like tree rings, but they’re put down daily. And so we could literally count them to see how long each dinosaur had been developing.”