Chapter

Fossilized Vertebrate Ontogenies

Marcelo Sánchez

in Embryos in Deep Time

Published by University of California Press

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780520271937
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520952300 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520271937.003.0003
Fossilized Vertebrate Ontogenies

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The identification of a fossil as an embryo is uncontested when found inside a fossil egg. More complicated is the case of viviparous species, that is, those which do not lay eggs but give birth to live young as humans do. Telling a fetus apart from a last meal can be difficult when dealing with fossil remains many millions of years old. Establishing the taxonomic identity of embryos and juvenile stages is also a challenge. Exceptional fossils of nonadults are snapshots of development, and we can learn the most about growth by having a series of them or by being fortunate enough to find a critical stage, such as one around birth, that has been preserved. This chapter discusses studies of fossil hatchlings and newborns; viviparity in fossil vertebrates; eggs, parental care, and brooding behavior; mammalian fossil embryos; and rotting embryos and petrified ones.

Keywords: fossils; fossil embryos; taxonomy; viviparity

Chapter.  5161 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Evolutionary Biology

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