Predatory dinosaurs of the end of the Jurassic turned out to be cannibals

(ORDO NEWS) — These were mainly allosaurus and ceratosaurs.

Drawing scratches on several thousand bones of allosaurus and other large predatory dinosaurs at the end of the Jurassic showed that one fifth of these remains were nibbled by their relatives. Most of these tracks belonged to allosaurs and ceratosaurs. The findings of scientists published the scientific journal PLOS ONE.

“Big two-legged predators, such as allosaurs, were hardly picky about food, especially when it was small enough. Carrion and meat of their own kindred definitely entered their menu,” said Stephanie Drumheller, paleontologist from the University of Tennessee (USA) and one of the authors of the work.

Allosaurus (Allosaurus fragilis) – one of the most famous predatory dinosaurs of the end of the Jurassic period . The paleontologist Charles Marsh discovered their remains in 1877, at the dawn of the development of paleontology. Subsequently, scientists discovered almost two dozen of their relatives, who on Earth much later.

These dinosaurs were inferior in size to other large Mesozoic predators, including tyrannosaurs, abelizaurs and spinosaurs, but due to some features unique to their era, they won in competition with other types of dinosaurs. In particular, the skeleton of allosaurs was adapted for fast running, and these dinosaurs could use their teeth and jaws as an ax, leaving bleeding wounds on the body of the victims. Thanks to this, allosaurs could drive much larger prey.

Jurassic Cannibals

Studying the bones of Allosaurus fragilis, as well as other large predators of the late Jurassic period, including ceratosaurs, torosaurs and saurophaganaxes, Drumheller and her colleagues found that allosaurs could hunt not only large herbivorous dinosaurs, but also feed on carrion and flesh of their own congeners .

In total, paleontologists studied over 2.3 thousand bones of these predators found in the state of Colorado over the past several decades. Scientists analyzed how these fossils were preserved and what kind of damage they suffered. In parallel, paleontologists searched for similar injuries on the bones of herbivorous dinosaurs.

It turned out that on a large number of bones of allosaurus and other predators of this era – about a third of the samples studied – there were characteristic scratches and cracks from the teeth of other dinosaurs. Most of these lesions were the work of the teeth of allosaurs and ceratosaurs.

Scientists combined these data with the results of a similar analysis for the bones of herbivorous dinosaurs and found that every fifth predator victim was their relative. This, according to Drumheller, suggests that carnivorous dinosaurs at the end of the Jurassic period constantly lacked food, so they were ready to eat not only carrion, but also attack their relatives.

This discovery, as paleontologists note, was the first evidence that allosaurs could be cannibals and get food not only thanks to hunting in packs, but also in other ways. This greatly expands their possible role in ecosystems of the end of the Jurassic period.

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