Tuesday, May 8, 2018

[Paleontology • 2018] Bacteria meet the "Titans": Horizontal Transfer of Symbiotic Microbiota as A Possible Driving Factor of Sociality in Dinosaurs


a nesting site of Maiasaura peeblesorum Horner & Makela, 1979.
in Romano & Farlow, 2018.
Artwork by D. Bonadonna (davidebonadonna.it).
  
In the last decades several new dinosaurs species have been described from both Laurasia and Gondwana and a complex, multi-dimensional picture of the physiology, evolution and behavior of dinosaurs has emerged. One of the central elements of new discoveries is the recognition of a complex sociality in this vertebrate clade, especially in herbivorous taxa. Herbivores are not genetically provided with the enzymes needed to break down and metabolize cellulose, thus need gut symbiotic bacteria communities, able to digest plant-derived materials. In this short contribution, we discuss the hypothesis that precisely the need to horizontally exchange bacteria among individual ls of different ages, has triggered a growing sociality in herbivorous dinosaurs.

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Fig. 1: Reconstruction of a nesting site of the hadrosaur Maiasaura peeblesorum Horner & Makela, 1979. In the foreground, a juvenile hadrosaur ingests the feces of its mother, to acquire the bacteria necessary to break down and metabolize cellulose and fibrous plant tissues. In the background, an adult Maiasaura lays eggs in the nest.

Artwork by Davide Bonadonna (davidebonadonna.it).

Marco Romano and James O. Farlow. 2018. Bacteria meet the "Titans": Horizontal Transfer of Symbiotic Microbiota as A Possible Driving Factor of Sociality in Dinosaurs.  Bollettino della Societa Paleontologica Italiana. DOI: 10.4435/BSPI.2018.05


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