If adult Tyrannosaurs usually hunted large herbivorous dinosaurs, it seems that the young preferred to feed on much smaller prey. A different diet revealed by the discovery of a juvenile gorgosaurus fossil with, in its stomach, the remains of its last victims.
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75 million years ago, on present-day Canada, a young gorgosaurus, a dinosaur from the tyrannosaur family, devoured two young Citipes, then died before being able to fully digest his last meal. Although we do not know exactly what the predator died of, the nature of its last prey is however unambiguously known thanks to the discovery of an astonishing fossil.
Remains of small dinosaurs found in the belly of the predator
It is in the Dinosaur Provincial Park in Canada that the skeleton of the young gorgosaurus (Gorgosaurus libratus) was discovered in 2009. A new study of the fossil revealed the presence of bones in what was the stomach of the predator. These remains obviously belonged to two babies Citipes less than a year old, herbivores about the size of a large turkey. Surprisingly small prey for this terrible predator. Indeed, we know that adult tyrannosaurids preferentially hunted large herbivores, sometimes more imposing than themselves. A diet which was clearly not that of the juveniles.
An exceptional discovery that helps understand the diet of young tyrannosaurids
The authors of the study published in the journal Science Advances explain in fact that the young gorgosaurus could not have been more than 5 or 7 years old. The analysis revealed that this individual could not have weighed much more than 300 kilos, or only 10% of the mass of an adult. The discovery therefore suggests that juvenile gorgosaurs, whose jaws were much narrower and less powerful than those of adults, would have preferentially fed on small prey.
This exceptional discovery therefore suggests that these large predators occupied different ecological niches depending on their age, thus bringing terror to numerous species of all sizes.
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