The skeleton of the juvenile Plateosaurus “Fabian” was discovered in Switzerland in 2015. Photo: Sauriermuseum Frick via DW
Although the babies of many dinosaur species looked markedly different from their parents, at least some young dinosaurs had the exact same appearance as the adults from their species, German researchers have found based on the skeleton of a Plateosaurus.
The two known Plateosaurus species, long-necked bipedal herbivores described as “prosauropod", lived during the Late Triassic period, between 214 million years ago and 204 million years ago. They inhabited much of today’s Northern Europe, Greenland, and North America.
The larger of the two Plateosaurus species reached a body length of up to 10 meters, and had a body mass of up to 4 metric tons.
German researchers from the University of Bonn reached the conclusion that the babies of some dinosaur species seemed like scaled-down copies of their parents as a result of the study of the skeleton of a young Plateosaurus.
The young Plateosaurus skeleton in question was discovered in 2015 in Switzerland. It has been named “Fabian".
The German researchers “surprisingly” discovered that the young specimen’s physical characteristics and body proportions were “remarkably consistent” with adult Plateosaurus, according to the study in the journal Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, as cited by DPA and DW.
“The fact that the Plateosaurus juvenile already looked so similar to the adults is all the more astonishing because they were ten times heavier,” Jens Lallensack, a paleontologist who took part in the study, is quoted as saying.
The research team from the University of Bonn determined that the juvenile Plateosaurus “Fabian” was 2.3 meters long (7.5 feet long) and weighed between 40 and 60 kilograms (88 to 132 pounds).
By comparing “Fabian” to the fossils of adults, they found numerous anatomical similarities, with only a few exceptions.
“The hand and neck of the juveniles are perhaps a little longer — the arm bones somewhat shorter and slimmer,” explains Darius Nau, a researcher at the University of Bonn’s Institute of Geoscience.
In contrast to the adult-baby similarities of the Plateosaurus, other dinosaur babies looked wildly different from their full-grown adult versions.
For example, the young hatchlings of the Mussaurus, which are related to the Plateosaurus, walked on four legs, even though the adults of the species were also bipedal.