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Scratches on dinosaur teeth show their sharp, efficient eating habits



Four different theropod dinosaurs showing their teeth and the different forms of teeth.

Long ago carnivorous dinosaurs grew small spikes on the back of their teeth called Dentiklen, the better to eat prey. When the dinosaurs bit, their food scratched their teeth.

From these tiny abrasions – the micro-ear – and the shape of the dino-dentition, paleontologists say they can not only say what those predators ate, but also how they did so. Published in the journal Current Biology Thursday. A research team from Spain and Canada studied the worn teeth of 57 fossil teeth from three different groups of similar sized dinosaurs Troodon Dromaeosaurus and Saurornithinestes which were about the size of a large swan , as well as a much larger 9 foot tall tyrannosaur named Gorgosaurus .

Microspheres highlighted in yellow on the teeth of three theropod dinosaurs. (19659005) "We could conclude that even if these different dinosaurs had different types of teeth in their teeth, they bite in the same way, by a stitch and a pull" system, "said Angélica Torices, paleontologist at the university La Roja in Spain.

The puncture-and-pull maneuver is, as the name implies, a two-step movement: pinching your teeth first, then pulling your head backwards – this is a very efficient way of nourishment

"When the tooth penetrates into the prey and is pulled back, the tooth will both pierce and cut through soft tissue," said Domenic D & #; Amore, a biologist at Daemen College in New York, who studied the bite of carnivorous dinosaurs and was not involved in the research. "The result is that meat can be effectively cut from a carcass, which is excellent for large prey to dissect vertebrate animals. "

This eating method was not extinct among the dinosaurs. Komodo dragons, the largest living lizards, use them. (Komodo dragons have the kind of food etiquette that would give Emily Post echoes: all chomp, very little chewing.) Unlike gentler carnivores, the Komodo dragon requires "minimal input from the jaw muscles when slaughtering prey," notes a study of The Eating Habits of Lizards

The dinosaurs examined in the new report are a classic image of the prehistoric butcher with two legs, long tails and thin forearms. All sorts of dinosaurs belong to a group of dinosaurs known as theropods. They lived in the Upper Cretaceous period between 100 million and 66 million years. The descendants of theropod dinosaurs are still alive today as birds.

Torices and her colleagues also used a technique from engineering, the finite element analysis, with which they could estimate how the tooth structure behaved in different scenarios. The researchers modeled, for example, the cutting angles and biting forces that the teeth could withstand.

"Most studies with theropod teeth to better understand nutrition have examined either tooth anatomy or traces of prey bone," said D & # 39; Amore. "This is new in that it uses both the anatomy and the micro-level as an indirect measure of behavior, which I find very convincing."

Although most of the dinosaurs in the study were about the same size, Torices said that the Animals probably consumed different foods despite the same bite method. Troodon teeth were likely dropped when the dinosaur collapsed at a non-optimal angle, suggesting that Troodon avoided prey that triggered a fight. "Potential food sources could have been smaller animals or invertebrates or even carrion."

Dromaeosaurus and Saurornitholestes teeth were able to withstand greater loads. These dinosaurs probably attacked larger prey and could sink their mouths into bone, the scientists said.

The Giant Gorgosaurus had a similar tooth structure as the Dromaeosaurus – except its fangs much larger. Fossil evidence in tyrannosaurus indicates that these large predators have penetrated the bones. Their teeth are not worn out like hyenas and other modern bony markers, but Torices said that this could be explained by the fact that dinosaurs continually replaced their teeth.

"All these dinosaurs lived at the same time and in the same place Therefore, it is important to know if they are competing for feed or if they are looking for other prey species," said Torices. "Through this work, we begin to better understand the interactions between these predatory dinosaurs and the role of troodontids in the ecosystem."

Read more:

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