- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 15, 2008

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

CHICAGO — Dinosaurs reached sexual maturity long before they were fully grown, becoming pregnant in their early adolescence, according to a study released yesterday.

Researchers have identified tell-tale signs of pregnancy in fossils from three young female dinosaurs, ages eight, 10 and 18. The investigators discovered calcium-rich bone tissue, also known as medullary bone, in bones from a meat-eating allosaurus, a plant-eating tenontosaurus and a tyrannosaurus rex.

“We were lucky to find these female fossils,” said Sarah Werning, a graduate student at the University of California at Berkeley and one of the authors of a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “Medullary bone is only around for three to four weeks in females who are reproductively mature, so you’d have to cut up a lot of dinosaur bones to have a good chance of finding this.”

The fossils have yielded some long sought-after clues to reproductive maturity in dinosaurs.



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