Cousins of T Rex may have resorted to CANNIBALISM when food was scarce

Cousins of T. Rex that roamed the planet 150 million years ago may have resorted to CANNIBALISM when food was scarce

  • Researchers analysed 2,368 fossil bone fragments from a Colorado, US, quarry
  • Of the remains, 684 had bite marks from dinosaurs like meat-eating Allosaurus
  • While most were on plant-eating reptiles, 17 per cent were on other meat eaters
  • Experts believe the dinos may have scavenged on the remains of their peers

Cousins of Tyrannosaurus Rex that roamed the planet 150 million years ago may have resorted to cannibalism when food was scarce, a study had found.

Experts analysed 2,368 bone fragments unearthed from the Mygatt-Moore Quarry in Colorado, a site which has produced numerous dinosaur specimens. 

They found that 17 per cent of the bite marks were made by meat-eating dinosaurs like Allosaurus and Ceratosaurus on their peers.

However, the team believe that the dinosaurs only acted as cannibals when food was scarce — scavenging, rather than actively hunting their own.

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Cousins of Tyrannosaurus Rex may have resorted to cannibalism when food was scarce, a study had found. Pictured, an artists impression of the Mygatt-Moore Quarry in Colorado 150 million years ago, with a Ceratosaurus and an Allosaurus fighting over the desiccated carcass of another theropod

‘Big theropods like Allosaurus probably weren’t particularly picky eaters, especially if their environments were already strapped for resources,’ said paper author and palaeontologist  Stephanie Drumheller, of the University of Tennessee.

‘Scavenging and even cannibalism were definitely on the table.’

In their study, Dr Drumheller and colleagues examined the tooth marks found left on the fossil bones — marks which the team said can provide ‘excellent evidence of ancient feeding habits.’

They found that 684 specimens had at least one bite mark from a carnivorous dinosaur — which the scientists believe to have come from Allosaurus, Ceratosaurus and larger dinosaurs like Saurophaganax or Torvosaurus.

Among the different types of bite marks that they identified were punctures, scores, furrows, pits, and striations, the researchers said.

Most of the bites, as would be expected, were found on the bones of plant-eating reptiles — the therapods’ usual prey.

Pictured, a dense cluster of striated furrows on the fossilised bone of an Apatosaurus

‘Big theropods like Allosaurus (pictured) probably weren’t particularly picky eaters, especially if their environments were already strapped for resources,’ said paper author and palaeontologist Stephanie Drumheller, of the University of Tennessee

Pictured, a dense cluster of furrows left on the bone of a Apatosaurus

However, the researchers also uncovered tooth impressions made by flesh-eating dinosaurs on the bones of other theropods.

In fact, these bites accounted for around 17 per cent of the marks.

Around half of these bites targeted less-nutritious parts of the victims’ bodies, the researchers said, suggesting the action of scavengers feeding on partially intact corpses — and potentially the result of a stressed, food-scarce ecosystem.

The researchers believe that the dinosaurs died and were buried slowly — allowing ample time for scavengers to find the corpses. 

The full findings of the study were published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Experts analysed 2,368 bone fragments unearthed from the Mygatt-Moore Quarry in Colorado, a site which has produced numerous dinosaur specimens

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