Paleontologists now think they know how the predatory Tyrannosaur ate the well-protected Triceratops: by ripping its head off. The carnivore may have forcefully yanked on the bony frills around the neck of its horned prey in order to get to the rich meat beneath. The researchers, who reported their findings at the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology’s annual meeting last week, suggested this scenario after examining Triceratops skulls, where they found puncture and pull marks on the neck frills—along with bite marks on the head-neck joint that could only have been made on a severed head.
For a fuller explanation, replete with step-by-step illustrations, visit Nature News.
Drawing courtesy of Nate Carroll via Nature
New bone evidence suggests that Tyrannosaurus rex was not only a scavenger but also a cannibal.
While researchers frequently find evidence of bites on bone fossils, Nicholas Longrich was surprised to find big, predator-sized tooth marks on T. rex bones–because the T. rex was the only large carnivore in the area, and therefore the only dinosaur who could have left those marks.
“These animals were some of the largest terrestrial carnivores of all time, and the way they approached eating was fundamentally different from modern species,” Longrich added. “There’s a big mystery around what and how they ate, and this research helps to uncover one piece of the puzzle.” [The Guardian].
Longrich found a total of four bones–three from T. rex feet and one from an arm–that show marks of cannibalism. The location of the bite marks suggest that they were made after death; for example, some of the markings are in areas that would have been obscured by joints in a living animal. One toe bone showed multiple bite marks made by a smaller animal, and Longrich notes that a large T. rex probably wouldn’t let another T. rex gnaw on its foot. There had to be another explanation, Longrich says: