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The teeth of carnivorous dinosaurs reveal their hunting strategy, Prey Choice



The researchers found that predatory theropod dinosaurs used the puncture and traction feeding method to trap and dismember their prey. Here, Saurornitholestes is shown using the method. ( Sydney Mohr and Javier Ruiz | Current Biology )

The analysis of the teeth of three main types of carnivorous dinosaurs reveals similar wear patterns, regardless of the size of the dinosaur and the tooth itself. As a result, dinosaurs used the same feeding methods but varied in the selection of prey depending on the strength and shape of their teeth.

Drilling and extraction method

After the analysis of the teeth of the predator theropods of the Upper Cretaceous, the researchers found that the creatures used a feeding method called puncture and traction, in which they used their teeth to drill the skin of their prey and then pulled their heads back while they were still dying.

This was compiled based on the patterns of small scratches on the teeth, specifically the parallel scratches that appear when the dinosaurs bite and the oblique scratches that form when the head is removed. These scratches were observed in all samples of teeth analyzed, except in a sample that had slightly eroded.

"We found that the microwear patterns were similar in all the teeth we examined, regardless of the size of the dinosaur, the size of the tooth or the shape of the denticles," said Ryan Wilkinson of the University's Department of Biological Sciences. Alberta, co-author of the study.

Different Prey Choice

Although it was discovered that the theropods had employed a similar hunting method, the researchers also found that they probably had different prey options mainly because of certain differences in their teeth. Because their teeth still varied in shape and strength, making some stronger and others more prone to breakage, dinosaurs were practically forced to favor certain types of prey over others.

For example, while Dromaeosaurus and Saurornitholestes were probably adapted to handle fighting prey and processing bones, Troodontids probably preferred prey that were softer, smaller and even immobile, since their teeth were more likely to fail at positions and angles. not optimal bites.

  Theropod dinosaurs' teeth are often sharp and jagged, but may also vary according to the species and clades of the creatures. Evidently, Dromaeosaurus and Saurornitholestes teeth were more likely to wear out over time.

(Photo: Torices, Wilkinson, et al. Current Biology) Theropod dinosaurs teeth are usually sharp and jagged, but may also vary according to the species and clades of the creatures. Evidently, the teeth of Dromaeosaurus and Saurornitholestes were more likely to wear out over time.

"All these dinosaurs lived at the same time and place, so it is important to know if they competed for food resources or if they targeted different prey," said the first author of the study, Angelica Torices of the University of La Rioja, Spain.

Researchers are developing complex models of the teeth, with the roots and bones of the jaw hoping to better understand the diet of the dinosaurs bite process.

The study is published in the journal Current Biology .

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