Dinosaur species innocent of cannibalism

September 26, 2006

A U.S. paleontology student is being credited with discrediting a theory that the dinosaur species Coelophysis bauri practiced cannibalism.

Sterling Nesbitt, a graduate student at Columbia University, made the discovery while standing on a New York City subway platform at the American Museum of Natural History station and idly looking at a bronze cast on the wall of one of the museum's dinosaurs, The New York Times reported.

The dinosaur, whose remains were found in New Mexico in 1947, had bones in its stomach that were believed to have come from a cannibalized young dinosaur. But a re-examination of the bones -- prompted by Nesbitt's study of the bronze cast -- disproved that theory.

"Our research shows that the evidence for cannibalism in Coelophysis is non-existent," Nesbitt told the Times, "and the evidence for cannibalism in other dinosaurs is quite thin."

The bones of the dinosaur's last meal, lying inside the skeleton where its stomach would have been, were found not to be those of a juvenile Coelophysis or any other dinosaur, but, rather, the bones of a small crocodile.

The study appears in the journal Biology Letters of the Royal Society of London.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Geoscientists size-up early dinosaurs, find surprising variation

Related Stories

Dinosaurs, Non-dinosaur Ancestors Coexisted

July 19, 2007

Fossils discovered in the oft-painted arroyos of northern New Mexico show for the first time that dinosaurs and their non-dinosaur ancestors lived side by side for tens of millions of years, disproving the notion that dinosaurs ...

Early carnivorous dinosaurs crossed continents

December 10, 2009

Did the first dinosaurs wander across continents or stay put where they first evolved? The first dinosaurs evolved 230 million years ago when the continents were assembled into one landmass called Pangea. The question of ...

New dinosaur discovered in Wales

June 9, 2015

A new dinosaur cousin of Tyrannosaurus rex has been found in Wales, the first meat-eating dinosaur ever found in the country.

Recommended for you

Amber specimen offers rare glimpse of feathered dinosaur tail

December 8, 2016

Researchers have discovered a dinosaur tail complete with its feathers trapped in a piece of amber. The finding reported in Current Biology on December 8 helps to fill in details of the dinosaurs' feather structure and evolution, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.