A life table for Psittacosaurus lujiatunensis: Initial insights into ornithischian dinosaur population biology

Gregory M. Erickson, Peter J. Makovicky, Brian D. Inouye, Chang Fu Zhou, Ke Qin Gao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations

Abstract

Very little is known about nonavian dinosaur population biology. Multi-individual sampling and longevity estimation using growth line counts can be used to construct life tables - the foundation for population analyses in ecology. Here we have determined the size and age distribution for a sample consisting of 80 individuals of the small ornithischian, Psittacosaurus lujiatunensis from the early Cretaceous Yixian Formation of China. Their ages ranged from less than a year to eleven years and the distribution was strongly right-skewed. This is consistent with taphonomic interpretations that these animals derive from a catastrophic death assemblage. The static life table analysis revealed the same general pattern of survivorship as tyrannosaurs including increased attrition before the attainment of full adult size. This may reflect increased physiological demands and/or predation exposure associated with reproduction. Collectively these findings suggest that most nonavian dinosaurs may have had a similar life history strategy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1514-1521
Number of pages8
JournalAnatomical Record
Volume292
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2009
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Growth curve
  • Growth rates
  • Life history
  • Reproduction
  • Survivorship

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