Teeth marks discovered on bone fossils show dinosaur species was cannibal
Teeth marks found on the bones of dinosaurs have confirmed that some of them were cannibals.
Scientists believe the marks on fossilised bones are the first clear evidence for cannibalism among dinosaurs. No other carnivore alive at the time could have left similar teeth marks, said Raymond Rogers, a geologist from Macalester College in St Paul, Minnesota.
"We have examined literally thousands of dinosaur bones from sites around the world and we've never seen fossil material quite like this," Dr Rogers said.
The bones came from a therapod (meat-eating) dinosaur called Majungatholus atopus, which grew up to 30 feet long and lived on the marshy plains of what is now Madagascar.
Bones from two Majungatholus individuals were analysed by Dr Rogers, David Krause of the State University of New York and Kristina Curry Rogers of the Science Museum of Minnesota.
Their study, published in the journal Science, found that the distinctive sets of tooth marks left on the bones precisely matched the size and spacing of teeth in the jaws of Majungatholus. Smaller grooves in the bones also matched the sharp serrations on the dinosaur's blade-like teeth.
"We examined the jaws and teeth of other known meat-eaters in the Malagasy fauna, including a much smaller carnivorous dinosaur and two large crocodiles," Dr Rogers said. None matched the description.
"We have the smoking gun in the form of diagnostic tooth marks and we can definitely rule out all of the other carnivores known to have been on the scene. These tooth-marked bones are a 'snapshot' of a day in the life and death of Majungatholus," he added.
"Cannibalism as a feeding strategy is very common in the animal kingdom today," said Dr Rogers. It is often carried out in times of extreme hardship. It is not known whether Majungatholus merely scavenged on its dead cousins or actively hunted smaller members of its own species.
"It appears that Majungatholus atopus exploited all available resources during stressful episodes," Dr Rogers said.
- 1 Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Pro-Russian rebel 'admits to shooting down plane'
- 3 Israel-Gaza conflict: The myth of Hamas’s human shields
- 5 Dutch paedophile club to fight their ban at the European Court of Human Rights
Lana Del Rey: 'I have slept with a lot of guys in the industry'
Peaches Geldof cause of death: 'Heroin addict' socialite had taken fatal dose of drug, inquest concludes
Peaches Geldof inquest: Tragic final moments of socialite's life reveal she lied to husband about failed heroin tests
Israel-Gaza conflict: The myth of Hamas’s human shields
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Was a Russian-made missile really parked in this quiet square?
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains
£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...
£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...
£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...
£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...