Life, and death, of Triceratops: Fossilized tooth marks shed light on T.Rex's gruesome hunting practices

Oct 29, 2012 by Bob Yirka report
Life, and death, of Triceratops: Fossilized tooth marks shed light on T.Rex's gruesome hunting practices
Credit: Nate Carroll 2012

(Phys.org)—Paleontologist Denver Fowler has told a group of attendees at the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology's annual meeting that he, along with colleagues from the Museum of the Rockies, has uncovered evidence that suggests Tyrannosaurus Rex pulled the head off Triceratops victims to allow access to nutritious neck meat.

Scientists have for years believed that T.Rex, killed and ate Triceratops. But until now, most research has focused on the body of the Triceratops. In this new study, Fowler et al. concentrated on bite marks found on the skulls of 18 fossil specimens found in Montana's Hell Creek Formation.

None of the bite marks showed any signs of healing, suggesting they occurred after the animals' deaths. Initially, the researchers couldn't explain why a such as a Tyrannosaurus would bother with a , as there wasn't much to eat in that that area. But upon further review, the researchers discovered deep parallel grooves in the bone indicating that an animal had been pulling on it, with its teeth sliding along the bone's surface.

Triceratops had a large bony frill around the back of the skull to protect the sensitive neck and throat. The researchers believe that after killing its victim, Tyrannosaurus would pull on the frill until the head came off, allowing easy access to the large, meaty neck muscles.

In addition to the parallel groves, the researchers also noted bite marks on the ball socket joints that allowed the Triceratops to move its head around—marks that could only come about if the head were removed.

Fowler also said the team had found evidence of facial nibbling by Tyrannosaurus on the skulls of the Triceratops, indicating the dinosaur had a taste for the more delicate meat found there. That finding led the researchers to wonder if T.Rex ate in different ways as it grew older. Adults with thick teeth would have been able to tear the head off of a , whereas younger T.Rex might have been satisfied with nibbling on softer, easier access points, thereby preserving their less-developed teeth. Fowler added that he and his colleagues plan to continue their investigation before submitting the present findings for publication.

Explore further: Archaeologists, tribe clash over Native remains

More information: www.denverfowler.com/publications/Fowler_et_al_2012.htm

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User comments : 7

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DavidW
2 / 5 (8) Oct 29, 2012
"T.Rex's gruesome hunting practices"

Nothing close to the gruesome practices of how humans treat pigs in the USA. http://www.youtub...I5qJxJ90
Moebius
1.8 / 5 (5) Oct 29, 2012
Seems more logical that they used that method to kill them rather than after they are dead when they can access any part of the body without ripping off the head. How else would they kill them? It's typical for predators to attack the neck and the Triceratops neck is protected.
Jonseer
2.2 / 5 (5) Oct 29, 2012
I'd say this makes it sound like it was a scavenger rather than a predator.

To attempt to do this on a fresh kill doesn't seem to make sense considering that the muscles and tendons that hold the head on to the neck of an animal remain quite strong and elastic for quite a while.

Also why would you go to all that trouble when you have the rest of the beast to eat first.

Even if it were a fresh kill, a TRex would probably have a good week or two wait before it could attempt to pull off the head of a Ttops, when decay and rot had softened the tissues enough so that the TRex could yank its head off.
elektron
1.8 / 5 (5) Oct 29, 2012
Tricera Tops™ it's the exciting new fun snack for your pet T Rex.

On second thought it looks like that T Rex is trying to slice of the Tricera's head with a circular saw blade.

Didn't Luis Alvarez describe paleontologists as 'not real scientists, they are more like stamp collectors'
Sinister1811
1 / 5 (5) Oct 30, 2012
I wouldn't be surprised if T.Rex did kill its prey.
It had forward-facing eyes and good binocular vision (typical of a predator), it had powerful hind legs, capable of chasing down prey. And it had bone crushing teeth like those of a Crocodile/alligator. On top of that, why would it have needed such a strong bite force?

It doesn't make sense for such a large, powerful animal to scavenge kills made by smaller, weaker predators, when it could have done the job more efficiently.
rockwolf1000
not rated yet Oct 31, 2012
"T.Rex's gruesome hunting practices"

Nothing close to the gruesome practices of how humans treat pigs in the USA. http://www.youtub...I5qJxJ90

Have you seen the way humans treat:
cows
horses
cats
dogs
dolphins
whales
the planet
each other?
The article is about dinosaurs so take your political agenda somewhere else. Perhaps PETA or ASPCA would like to listen to your rhetoric.
IronhorseA
2 / 5 (4) Nov 04, 2012
"T.Rex's gruesome hunting practices"

Nothing close to the gruesome practices of how humans treat pigs in the USA. http://www.youtub...I5qJxJ90


Say that after the wild boar has gored you to death just for crossing his path. ;P

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