Monday, May 03, 2010

Nopcsa's Sauropod Dwarfs

Small body size and extreme cortical bone remodeling indicate phyletic dwarfism in Magyarosaurus dacus (Sauropoda: Titanosauria). 2010. K. Stein, et al. PNAS, Published online before print April 30.

Illo: Mihai Dumbrava,
In 1895, the sister of a eccentric palaeontologist Franz Baron Nopcsa discovered small dinosaur bones on their family estate in Transylvania. Nopcsa interpreted these as the remains of dwarfed animals that had once lived on an island. Among these finds were a number of bones belonging to a sauropod dinosaur which Nopcsa named Magyarosaurus dacus, after his native country. New research on the microanatomy of these bones prove that the little dinosaur was fully grown.

"Our study shows that dinosaurs on islands were subject to the same ecological and evolutionary processes that shape modern mammals," explains Martin Sander. "We were also able to demonstrate that the bigger bones found in that area belong to a different dinosaur species." Whether they come from stray animals who swam to the island from the mainland, or from large ancestors of the dwarf Magyarosaurus, remains a secret shrouded in the mists of pre-historic time. link