During the months of March and April, GreenCupboards customers have the opportunity to support Microryza through certain purchases. Microryaza is a platform for directly funding researchers investigating a range of scientific topics. One of those research tops is a look at cannibalism in giant tyrannosaurs.
There is currently a great expansion in the research surrounding the behavior of the carnivorous dinosaurs and the tyrannosaurs are at the forefront of this. Large tyrannosaurs have a unique combination of skull and tooth characters that means they likely hunted and fed in ways different to other carnivorous dinosaurs, but specimens like the one here are rare and we need to maximize the amount of information available with a careful study of both the patterns of bite marks and the data on how the fossil was preserved.
David Hone, a Paleontologist at University of Bristol, is leading the research. We asked him to share with us his work below.
Giant predatory dinosaurs are feted in museums and star in TV shows and movies alike (generally as skulking villains). However, just as biologists are increasingly appreciating the complexity and subtlety of the behavior of animals like crocodiles and lizards, so too palaeontologists are uncovering the range of behaviors of their extinct relatives. Large dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus were not mindless brutes, and analysis of a variety of fossils shows that they could be delicate and careful feeders and may have fought each other in ritualized battles.
My work focuses on this very area – the behavior and ecology or the predatory dinosaurs and I have published a number of papers on their habits and the fossils that allow us to make inferences about how they lived their lives. Currently I’m appealing for funds to further investigate the carnivorous behavior of a large dinosaur called Daspletosaurus that’s from Alberta, Canada.
Daspletosaurus is a close relative of Tyrannosaurus and while not as large, was still a seriously large animal, clocking in at around 9 m long and weighing up to 2 tons. It was one of the dominant carnivorous animals of its time and clearly a big beast to feed, and thus, like modern big carnivores, we would expect it to take advantage of what food was available. A Daspletosaurus skull held in the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Alberta has a series of marks on it that were made by the teeth of a large carnivorous dinosaurs – most likely another Daspletosaurus. In other words, this may be evidence of cannibalism in this species.
Clearly detailed research is required too assess the exact nature of the marks and try to establish (if possible) exactly which dinosaur was feeding on this skull, and also importantly, how and when. Was this animal killed and then eaten, or was it already a decaying corpse that was scavenged. Answering these questions will help us unravel how these animals behaved and what did and did not form part of the behavior Sure, cannibalistic dinosaurs sounds like and incredibly cool project (and yes, it is) but taking advantage of key specimens like this is critical to build up a picture of what they did, how and when and how these traits evolved in various dinosaur lineages and what behaviors the predatory dinosaurs as a whole were capable, and therefore what may have been inherited by their descendants – the birds.
During the months of March and April, you can support Microryza and this scientific research by shopping on GreenCupboards. For every BioBag, Lollacup, Goal Zero and Zoe B Organic product sold on GreenCupboards, we will donate $1 to Microryza which.