Dinosaur lactation? In MY Mesozoic era?
Dinosaurs Fed Their Babies Milk?
by Brian Switek
A new Journal of Experimental Biology paper proposes that the archosaurs might have been capable of nurturing their young with an alternative to mammalian milk.
Simply titled “Dinosaur lactation?”, the commentary by University of Wollongong health scientist Paul Else speculates that a peculiar form of nurturing seen among modern birds might have originated among non-avian dinosaurs. Birds such as doves, flamingos, penguins, and petrels can produce a milky substance in their crops or other parts of their upper digestive system. The fluid contains antibodies, fat, protein, and other nourishing elements. Perhaps, Else speculates, non-avian dinosaurs fed their young a similar substance.
There is no direct evidence that dinosaurs produced “crop milk.” Else makes his case based upon the evolutionary connection between birds and dinosaurs, as well as the hypothesis that the substance would have been one way for adult dinosaurs to feed their newly-hatched young. Of all dinosaurs, Else suggests that hadrosaurs such as Maiasaura (pictured above) were the most likely to produce milk because their babies may not have been able to effectively break down plant food until they developed teeth and the proper gut flora…
(read more: National Geo) (photo: FMPGOH | Flickr)
Reference: Else, P. 2013. Dinosaur lactation?, Journal of Experimental Biology. 216: 347-351