Evidence of the Growth Plate and the Growth of Long Bones in Juvenile Dinosaurs

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Science  24 Dec 1993:
Vol. 262, Issue 5142, pp. 2020-2023
DOI: 10.1126/science.262.5142.2020


Histological and ultrastructural evaluation of the ends of long bones of juvenile dinosaurs from the Upper Cretaceous Two Medicine Formation of Montana revealed the preservation of growth plates. Growth plates are discs of cartilage present near the ends of growing long bones that generate bone elongation. Comparison of the fossils with modern taxa demonstrated homology of the growth plate in birds and dinosaurs. The presence of an avian-type growth plate in dinosaurs adds a shared derived anatomical character corroborating inclusion of birds within the Dinosauria. Additionally, possession of a growth plate, which in birds is capable of producing rapid determinate long bone growth, implies that an avian developmental pattern may have been present in these dinosaurs.