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MN professor's breakthrough: baby dinosaurs could walk when they hatched

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Just bust out of that shell, kick it aside, and walk away.

That's a simplified description of how a variety of dinosaurs known as titanosaurs started their lives, new research led by a Macalaster College professor shows.

The bones of a titanosaur that died soon after hatching were recognized by Kristi Curry Rogers (they'd been mistakenly mixed in with crocodile fossils at a New York university).

Curry Rogers and her team jumped at the chance to study what these dinosaurs were like in their earliest stage of life – something no scientists had previously done, according to an announcement from Macalester.

What did they find?

While most newborns need a whole lot of nurturing from their parents before they can strike out on their own, things were different for the titanosaurs.

Based on the bones of the hatchling, Curry Rogers says the titanosaur was born looking very much like its parents. It was much smaller – the adult versions of those long-necked, plant-eating dinosaurs grew nearly 23 feet tall, the Christian Science Monitor says – but the babies walked alongside the adults and were quickly self sufficient.

https://twitter.com/ScienceNews/status/723210976783413248

The particular baby dinosaur that Curry Rogers and her team studied was somewhere between 39 and 77 days old, the Christian Science Monitor says.

Curry Rogers tells Science magazine that based on how thin its bones were, the researchers surmise it died of drought or starvation.

The team of scientists also published their full study in the current issue of Science.

Titanosaurs

Titanosaurs were only identified by paleontologists a couple of years ago but some now consider them the largest animals that ever walked the Earth.

Macalaster's statement says the one Curry Rogers and her team studied hatched from an egg about the size of a soccer ball and weighed about five pounds at the time. It lived about 67 million years ago in what is now Madagascar, the college says.

The fossilized skeleton of a full-sized titanosaur was discovered in Argentina two years ago and a cast of it was just installed at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

https://twitter.com/mustard_seeds/status/723687956632993793

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