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Incubation time as an important influence on egg production and distribution into clutches for sauropod dinosaurs

Graeme D. Ruxton, Geoffrey F. Birchard and D. Charles Deeming
Incubation time as an important influence on egg production and distribution into clutches for sauropod dinosaurs
Paleobiology (2014) 40 (3): 323-330

Abstract

Individual egg size and clutch size of the largest of the dinosaurs (the sauropods) are both smaller than might be expected for such large oviparous organisms. We suggest that these effects can be understood in the light of likely incubation times of sauropod eggs. Using allometric relationships from extant birds and crocodilians, we estimate that time from laying to hatching was likely to have been 65-82 days. If total predation risk varies with length of incubation time, there may be egg sizes above which the advantages of larger initial hatchling size are outweighed by the increased risk of predation during the egg stage. Also, in seasonal environments there will often be a finite limit to the period over which environmental temperatures are high enough for egg development. Thus incubation time may have been an important constraint explaining the small individual size of sauropod eggs. We further suggest that for sauropods spatial dispersal of eggs in small clutches was an adaptive strategy to mitigate this high predation risk associated with long time of exposure in the egg stage. Such a dispersive strategy brings several benefits. Thus, incubation time may also be key to explaining the surprisingly small clutch sizes.


ISSN: 0094-8373
EISSN: 1938-5331
Coden: PALBBM
Serial Title: Paleobiology
Serial Volume: 40
Serial Issue: 3
Title: Incubation time as an important influence on egg production and distribution into clutches for sauropod dinosaurs
Affiliation: University of Saint Andrews, School of Biology, Saint Andrews, United Kingdom
Pages: 323-330
Published: 2014
Text Language: English
Publisher: Paleontological Society, Lawrence, KS, United States
References: 45
Accession Number: 2014-053671
Categories: Vertebrate paleontology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. 1 table
Secondary Affiliation: George Mason University, USA, United StatesUniversity of Lincoln, GBR, United Kingdom
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, American Geosciences Institute. Abstract, Copyright, The Paleontological Society. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States
Update Code: 201429
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