Project 494: Sarah Werning. 2012. The ontogenetic osteohistology of Tenontosaurus tilletti. PLOS ONE. 7 (3):e33539.
Specimen: † Tenontosaurus tilletti (OMNH:63525)
View: Tibia: cross-section, mid-diaphysis


Tenontosaurus tilletti is an ornithopod dinosaur known from the Early Cretaceous (Aptian-Albian) Cloverly and Antlers formations of the Western United States. It is represented by a large number of specimens spanning a number of ontogenetic stages, and these specimens have been collected across a wide geographic range (from central Montana to southern Oklahoma). Here I describe the long bone histology of T. tilletti and discuss histological variation at the individual, ontogenetic and geographic levels. The ontogenetic pattern of bone histology in T. tilletti is similar to that of other
dinosaurs, reflecting extremely rapid growth early in life, and sustained rapid growth through sub-adult ontogeny. But unlike other iguanodontians, this dinosaur shows an extended multi-year period of slow growth as skeletal maturity approached. Evidence of termination of growth (e.g., an external fundamental system) is observed in only the largest individuals, although other histological signals in only slightly smaller specimens suggest a substantial slowing of growth later in life. Histological differences in the amount of remodeling and the number of lines of arrested growth varied among elements within individuals, but bone histology was conservative across sampled individuals of the species, despite known paleoenvironmental differences between the Antlers and Cloverly formations. The bone histology of T. tilletti indicates a much slower growth trajectory than observed for other iguanodontians (e.g., hadrosaurids), suggesting that those taxa reached much larger sizes than Tenontosaurus in a shorter time.

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Project DOI: 10.7934/P494,
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    Sarah Werning
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    Last logged in 03/28/12

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