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Society sans frills

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9:43am, November 7, 2006

From Ottawa, at a meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology

Past studies suggest that horned dinosaurs such as Triceratops and their relatives, a group known as ceratopsians, lived in herds and used the frills on their skulls and other ornamentations to identify members of their own species, as did many other dinosaurs (SN: 8/13/05, p. 103: Available to subscribers at Just for Frills?). Now, the discovery of the fossils of several young dinosaurs in one small space suggests that an ancestor of ceratopsians exhibited social behavior millions of years before their group gained large distinctive decorations.

Researchers found the remains of six juvenile psittacosaurs in 128-million-year-old rocks in northern China. Those rocks appear to have been laid down quickly as a cementlike mixture of water, fresh volcanic ash, and eroded soil, says Paul Barrett of the Natural History Museum in London.

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