First proof that “stressed” dinosaurs could become cannibals

By examining 150 million-year-old bones, American researchers have discovered the first potential evidence of cannibalism in allosaurs, ferocious Jurassic predators.

It all started in the Mygatt-Moore quarry, a famous excavation site located in Colorado, in the United States, where thousands of 150 million-year-old dinosaur bones – towards the end of the Jurassic – were put up to date. There, Doctor Stephanie Drumheller, paleontologists at the University of Tennessee and her colleagues made a rare discovery: they found several fossilized bones with bite marks inflicted by theropods, carnivorous dinosaurs that lived in this region.

The results of their analyzes, detailed in a study published in the journal PLOS Wednesday May 27, indicate that some of these bites were inflicted by scavenger theropods – feeding on dead animals – and potentially cannibals, which had never has been demonstrated to date. According to the researchers, it is likely that these behaviors were caused by periods of scarcity during which the lack of food “stressed” the animals.

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