New study finds cannibalism in predatory dinosaurs


Graphic: Major theropod dinosaurs this kind of as Allosaurus and Ceratosaurus ate very a lot anything — which includes each individual other, according to a new examine.
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Credit rating: PLOS 1

Major theropod dinosaurs this kind of as Allosaurus and Ceratosaurus ate very a lot anything–which includes each individual other, according to a new examine, “Substantial Frequencies of Theropod Bite Marks Give Evidence for Feeding, Scavenging, and Achievable Cannibalism in a Stressed Late Jurassic Ecosystem,” published last thirty day period in the journal PLOS 1.

“Scavenging, and even cannibalism, is very frequent among modern predators,” explained guide writer Stephanie Drumheller, a paleontologist in the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. “Major theropods, like Allosaurus, most likely weren’t specially picky eaters if it meant they got a totally free food.”

Researchers surveyed much more than two,000 bones from the Jurassic Mygatt-Moore Quarry, a 152-million-calendar year-outdated fossil deposit in western Colorado, hunting for bite marks. They identified much more than they had been expecting.

There had been theropod bites on the big-bodied sauropods whose gigantic bones dominate the assemblage, bites on the greatly armored Mymoorapelta, and a lot of bites on theropods, way too, specially the frequent stays of Allosaurus. There had been hundreds of them, in frequencies far above the norm for dinosaur-dominated fossil web-sites.

Some had been on meaty bones like ribs, but scientists learned other folks on little toe bones, far from the choicest cuts. Pulled collectively, the details paints a picture of an ecosystem the place dinosaur stays lay out on the landscape for months at a time–a stinky prospect, but one that gave a total succession of predators and scavengers a convert at feeding on.

But why had been there so lots of bites on the Mygatt-Moore bones? That issue is a small tougher to response, at minimum with no related surveys from other dinosaur web-sites for comparison.

The Mygatt-Moore Quarry itself is a small abnormal.

Volunteer users of the community have excavated most of the fossils identified at the quarry. Julia McHugh, curator of paleontology with the Museums of Western Colorado and a co-writer of the examine, resolved to continue this tradition of outreach by bringing students into the lab to aid with the project. Now two of them, Miriam Kane and Anja Riedel, are co-authors on the new examine as effectively.

“Mygatt-Moore is this kind of a distinctive position,” McHugh explained. “Science happens in this article alongside hands-on STEM education with our dig plan and volunteers.”

Obtaining so lots of marks on hand permit the scientists really dig into particulars that are in some cases tougher to examine in smaller sized collections. For instance, theropod enamel are serrated, and when in a although the tooth form is reflected in the bite marks they make. Yet another co-writer, Domenic D’Amore of Daemen Higher education, experienced previously figured out a way to translate these striated tooth marks into overall body measurement estimates.

“We are unable to often inform accurately what species had been marking up the Mygatt-Moore bones, but we can say lots of of these marks had been made by anything major,” D’Amore explained. “A couple of may have been made by theropods larger than any identified at the website right before.”

For much more than thirty yrs, researches and other folks have labored the Mygatt-Moore Quarry intensively, but even right after all that time, each individual year provides new discoveries in the subject and in the lab. This snapshot of dinosaur habits is proof that outdated bones can nevertheless hold scientific surprises.


Examine the total examine on the internet.

Amanda Womac (865-974-2992, [email protected])

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