(ORDO NEWS) — Among people today, cannibalism is an almost unthinkable thing – and in almost all traditional cultures, eating one’s relatives is strictly taboo. Even in ancient times, people resorted to it only in exceptional circumstances. However, it is quite common in animals : cannibalism has been reported in both insects and primates, including chimpanzees.
Most likely, extinct dinosaurs did not shy away from him, although it is rather difficult to prove this after such a time. Some evidence suggests tyrannosaurus cannibalism, however, the first massive evidence of this behavior has been discovered recently. This team of scientists led by Stephanie Drumheller (Stephanie Drumheller) from the University of Tennessee reports in an article published in the journal Plos One .
The authors examined 2368 fossilized remains of allosaurus found in the old quarry of Mygatt-Moore in Colorado. These large two-legged carnivores, who lived about 150 million years ago, acted as “super-predators” of the late Jurassic period, occupying the top position in the food chain and were unlikely to serve as a target for any other hunters of that time.
However, this time, scientists have found numerous traces of teeth on their bones. According to them, the marks were preserved on 684 samples – about 30 percent of their total number – which is extremely uncharacteristic for dinosaurs. More often predatory mammals, trying to get to the nutritious bone marrow, or crocodiles, tearing prey along with bones, are inclined to gnaw at the relatives’ bones so often.
Before, tooth marks in places of mass detection of dinosaur remains were not found in such numbers. Scientists suggest that the area itself near the current quarry in Colorado in the Late Jurassic could “persuade” allosaurus to cannibalism. For example, a shortage of the usual prey of these predators could lead to attacks on brethren and eating their bodies. As far as it is known, local ecosystems then often suffered from fires and droughts, forcing their inhabitants to use literally any available food resource.
The analysis of tooth prints confirmed that they were not left in the course of ordinary fights and skirmishes: traces were more often found on the relatively soft and nutritious parts of the bones, indicating a purposeful eating of the carcass. And although the finds from Maygatt-Moore are still unique, in fact cannibalism could be widespread among dinosaurs quite widely.
The authors note that thousands of samples used were obtained in a rather unusual way for paleontology. They were collected on the spot all in a row, while usually limited in resources scientists concentrate only on the most interesting, preserved or unusual fossils. Perhaps because of this evidence of cannibalism among the ancient dinosaurs almost did not come across.
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