Magazine article Science News

Fossil Suggests Carnivorous Dinosaurs Begat Vegetarian Kin. (Veggie Bites)

Magazine article Science News

Fossil Suggests Carnivorous Dinosaurs Begat Vegetarian Kin. (Veggie Bites)

Article excerpt

The same Chinese rocks that have yielded evidence of new groups of feathered dinosaurs in the past few years have now surrendered remains of a creature that had rodentlike incisors and a hefty overbite. Scientists describing the new species say its remains provide the first distinct dental evidence for plant-eating habits among theropod dinosaurs, a class made famous by its carnivores, including Tyrannosaurus rex.

Fossils of the creature, whose genus name, Incisivosaurus, refers to its prominent front teeth, were unearthed from sediments deposited more than 128 million years ago in what is now northeastern China. Xing Xu of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing and his colleagues describe the unusual dinosaur in the Sept. 19 Nature.

The large worn areas on Incisivosaurus' front teeth, as well as smaller ones on most of its cheek teeth, indicate that upper and lower teeth made contact during chewing, as they do in modern herbivores. Also, the animal's teeth lack small serrations that appear on many of the meat-shearing, daggerlike teeth of this dinosaur's carnivorous cousins.

"It's hard to imagine that this creature isn't largely, if not wholly, herbivorous," says Peter J. Makovicky, a paleontologist at the Field Museum in Chicago. Fossils from slightly older sediments in the region indicate that Incisivosaurus lived in a forest rife with conifers and shrubs.

Previous finds have offered circumstantial evidence that some theropods ate plants, says Philip Currie of the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.