Tooth buried in bone shows two prehistoric predators tangled across land, sea boundaries

September 29, 2014 by Rosaire Bushey, Virginia Tech

Tooth buried in bone shows two prehistoric predators tangled across land, sea boundaries
Teeth from phytosaurs, a reptile from the Triassic Period about 210 million years ago in what is now the western United States. The blue tooth on the left is a 3-D printed replica of a tooth embedded in the thigh bone of a rauisuchid, another Triassic period carnivore. The details of the tooth were digitally extracted using CT scans.
(Phys.org) —About 210 million years ago when the supercontinent of Pangea was starting to break up and dog-sized dinosaurs were hiding from nearly everything, entirely different kinds of reptiles called phytosaurs and rauisuchids were at the top of the food chain.

It was widely believed the two top predators didn't interact much as the former was king of the water, and the latter ruled the land. But those ideas are changing, thanks largely to the contents of a single bone.

In a paper published online in September in the German journal Naturwissenschaften, Stephanie Drumheller of the University of Tennessee and Michelle Stocker and Sterling Nesbitt, vertebrate paleontologists with the Virginia Tech's Department of Geosciences, present evidence the two creatures not only interacted, but did so on purpose.

"Phytosaurs were thought to be dominant aquatic predators because of their large size and similarity to modern crocodylians," said Stocker, "but we were able to provide the first direct evidence they targeted both aquatic and large terrestrial prey."

The evidence? A tooth. Not just any tooth, but the tooth of a phytosaur lodged in the of a rauisuchid, a creature about 25 feet long and 4 feet high at the hip. The tooth lay broken off and buried about two inches deep in bone, and then healed over, indicating the rauisuchid survived the attack.

"Finding teeth embedded directly in is very, very rare," Drumheller said. "This is the first time it's been identified among phytosaurs, and it gives us a smoking gun for interpreting this set of bite marks."

The researchers came across the bone by chance at the University of California Museum of Paleontology in Berkeley.

"It was remarkable we were able to reconstruct a part of an ancient food web from over 210 million years ago from a few shallow marks and a tooth in a bone," said Nesbitt. "It goes to show how careful observation can lead to important discoveries even when you're not seeking those answers.

"We came across this bone and realized pretty quickly we had something special," Nesbitt said. "There are many bones that get dug up, not all are immediately processed, prepared, and studied. No one had recognized the importance of this specimen before but we were able to borrow it and make our study."

The large rauisuchid thigh at the center of the research has the of the attacker, which the researchers recreated using CT scans and a 3-D printer. Multiple bite marks indicate the creature was preyed upon at least twice over the course of its life, by phytosaurs.

"This research will call for us to go back and look at some of the assumptions we've had in regard to the Late Triassic ecosystems," Stocker said. "The distinctions between aquatic and terrestrial distinctions were over-simplified and I think we've made a case that the two spheres were intimately connected."

Explore further: Dinosaur-chewing mammals leave behind oldest known tooth marks

More information: "Direct evidence of trophic interactions among apex predators in the Late Triassic of western North America." Stephanie K. Drumheller, Michelle R. Stocker, Sterling J. Nesbitt, Naturwissenschaften September 2014. link.springer.com/article/10.1 … 07/s00114-014-1238-3

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antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (7) Sep 29, 2014
with the Virginia Tech's Department of Geosciences, present evidence the two creatures not only interacted, but did so on purpose

Well, the rauisuchid probably did not take part in that interaction on purpose.

It is lamentable that evolutionists hinge their belief and interpretations on a single fossil finding! It has happened too often before, to the regret of those scientists as new findings disproved their suppositions.

So let's hear your interpretation of such a finding.
vaire
4.6 / 5 (10) Sep 29, 2014
So let's hear your interpretation of such a finding.


Don't those of his ilk only have the two? For absolutely everything. 'Twas god or 'twas the devil/original sin/the big bad wolf.
wofford914
5 / 5 (10) Sep 29, 2014
i love folks who come to science web sites and claim they know more than the worlds scientists because some goat herder 6000 years ago stole myths and legends from multiple other cultures and made stuff up to boot. If you dont believe in modern science then please stop visiting the doctor, using medicines, driving automobiles or riding trains, or buses and using electricity, cable or satellite tv, listening the the radio or music, etc....
antialias_physorg
4.6 / 5 (11) Sep 29, 2014
If you dont believe in modern science then please stop visiting the doctor, using medicines, driving automobiles or riding trains, or buses and using electricity, cable or satellite tv, listening the the radio or music, etc...

..or the internet. I guess we'd all be better off for that.

(Though to be pedantic: one does not have to 'believe' in science. It works all on its own)
Tektrix
5 / 5 (9) Sep 29, 2014
. . . to the regret of those scientists as new findings disproved their suppositions.


Scientists have no problem with disproof, it's part and parcel to scientific methods. However, science and disproof very much threatens the security of those who have little to trust but the strength of their faith.
betterexists
1 / 5 (3) Sep 29, 2014
Yeah! They gobbled up Sea Plankton through their rears, filtered it inside & vomited copious amount of water etc., out!
OZGuy
5 / 5 (3) Sep 30, 2014
@verkle - it's lamentable that you persist in posting blatant drivel. I really don't understand what sort of pleasure you get from doing so?
Vietvet
4.2 / 5 (5) Sep 30, 2014
@verkle

"to the regret of those scientists as new findings disproved their suppositions.

What new findings?

Of course you want answer that, it's something you just pulled out of thin air. Another example of your dishonesty.

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