Dinosaur Discovery: Dino Eggs Took Months To Hatch, May Be The Cause Of Their ExtinctionBy Emily Marks, UniversityHerald Reporter
Researchers have recently discovered that dinosaur eggs took months to hatch. This made them vulnerable to harsh environmental conditions and may have even played a significant role in their extinction.
New research from Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that dinosaurs were similar to modern reptiles when it came to hatching babies. The new finding was discovered from studying the teeth of dinosaur embryo fossils.
Researchers studied the fossils of Protoceratops, a sheep-sized creature from Mongolia's Gobi Desert, as well as the Hypacrosaurus, which is a large duck-billed dinosaur found in Alberta, Canada. Growth lines on the teeth confirmed that the baby Protoceratops stayed in its egg for at least three months while the Hypacrosaurus stayed for six months.
The Washington Post noted that the dentin layers allowed the scientists to calculate an estimate of the incubation times for the two creatures. David Varricchio, a paleontologist at Montana State University, described this method of calculating incubation duration as "a compelling one."
According to a press release, scientists previously theorized that dinosaurs had similar incubation duration as birds, which ranged from 11 to 85 days. However, that was not the case.
It was noted that the long incubation put eggs and their parents at risk from environmental risk factors, starvation and predators. Moreover, the biggest implication of the discovery comes with the dinosaurs' extinction.
Florida State University Professor of Biological Science Gregory Erickson, who led the study, expects that their findings will be of great help in understanding why dinosaurs went extinct at the end of the Cretaceous period. This could also explain why other creatures such as amphibians, birds, mammals as well as other reptiles were able to make it through.
Inverse added that the long incubation period for the dinosaurs may not have been beneficial for the creatures since a lot could go wrong during that period of time. Birds and reptiles may have been able to build their populations much faster, making the species more likely to escape extinction.