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Dinosaur Extinction May Be Due In Part To Period Before Hatching

First Posted: Jan 03, 2017 03:50 AM EST
Dinosaur Egg Hatching
Long incubation periods may have contributed to dinosaur extinction, new discovery shows. (Image for representation only.)
(Photo : suzanamuca/YouTube screenshot)

There are a few events that are deemed to have been the cause of dinosaur extinction. First is the massive asteroid or comet that smashed into Earth that is now known as the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. Second is the long-standing volcanic eruptions of the Deccan Traps in India.

However, there seems to be a new theory as to how and why these creatures became extinct, and it may not even be due to a foreign space object. It seems that dinosaur eggs take particularly a long time to hatch, which means that if and when it comes to competing with other animals that made it through the "end of the world" era, they may have lost out.

Business Insider pointed out that birds may lay fewer eggs than reptiles, but they hatch about twice as fast, which researchers said helped them survive. Because dinosaurs also existed as birds, many thought that eggs of the non-avian ones hatch about the same rate as bird eggs. But it seems that this is not the case.

A new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Scientists reported that dinosaur eggs actually take far longer to hatch. By studying the growth of dinosaur embryonic teeth -- a rare and difficult feat to manage -- researchers estimated that dinosaur eggs incubate for about 83 to 171 days, like reptiles, not around 40 to 82 days like birds, as scientists initially thought. This changes a lot regarding what people know of these mysterious creatures, as the amount of time it takes for the young to be born can impact how a species lives.

For a while, scientists believed that dinosaurs made long migrations back and forth from the Arctic between seasons. But their long egg incubation periods may have made this impossible, though further research could either prove or disprove the hypothesis. However, as Science Magazine pointed out, their longer incubation times can make it particularly disadvantageous for the species in the wake of cataclysmic events such as the aforementioned asteroid.

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