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Dryosaurus lettowvorbecki - first results of a palaeobiological study
SVPCA Conference
Platform presentation (20 minutes)
*Tom Hübner
Dryosaurus lettowvorbecki belongs to the basal iguanodontia (Norman, 2004) and was found during the Tendaguru expedition to Tanzania from 1910 to 1912. Two bone beds in a single quarry were found to contain up to 14000 single bones of mostly disarticulated skeletons. These represent individuals from several ontogenetic growth stages (Janensch, 1914) of animals ranging from 0.7 to 5 metres in total length. During my PhD research, several different methods (including statistics, morphological comparison and histology) are applied to these bones to get a comprehensive picture of the palaeobiology of D. lettowvorbecki. First results confirm the dominance of two distinct age classes in the fossil record, recognized first by Heinrich (1999). The overall postcranial morphology is exceedingly similar in all represented sizes and first histological insights show high growth rates similar to large birds consisting generally of fibrolamellar bone with dense vascularisation. Additionally after further preparation and CT-scans, the well preserved juvenile skull from the collections of the Bayerische Staatssammlung in Munich reveals the preserved splenials, articulars, prearticulars and one coronoid previously unknown in this species (Janensch, 1955).

The first tentative conclusion for the palaeobiology of D. lettowvorbecki interprets this species as a fast running gregarious animal which filled a similar ecological niche to modern seasonally migrating small antelopes of the recent East African savannahs.

London 2020