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... Dinosaurs 'had sex as teens' Dinosaurs 'had sex as teens'

15 January 2008

Dinosaurs grew up fast and died young, scientists have discovered.

With the media full of stories about teenage pregnancies, US scientists have revealed that dinosaurs reached sexual maturity relatively quickly and even had babies before they reached their full adult sizes.

The conclusions were made after the palaeontologists found the remains of a special type of calcium-rich bone tissue which usually forms in order for females to produce eggshells, in the fossilised bones of three types of adolescent dinosaurs.

The Allosaurus studied would have been ten years old when it conceived, while the Tenontosaurus and Tyrannosaurus Rex would have been eight and 18 respectively when they were expecting.

"It's nice to know when dinosaurs started having sex," said Sarah Werning of the University of California at Berkley.

"It's actually really common to start reproducing before you're done growing. Most animals do that. Reptiles do that. Medium- and large-sized mammals do that. Whether our parents like it or not, humans do that," she added.

The findings also supported the long-held belief that dinosaurs were the distant ancestors of modern birds and suggested they led relatively short lives.