Fossils that were found in a large quarry have revealed that some dinosaurs resorted to cannibalism when food was scarce. The bones were discovered in the Mygatt-Moore Quarry close to the Utah-Colorado border.
Thousands of dinosaur bones dating back to around 150 million years ago during the late Jurassic period have been unearthed in the quarry. In fact, millions of years ago, the quarry was a lush, vegetated landscape that was home to several big dinosaurs that included the bipedal carnivore Allosaurus as well as the long-necked Apatosaurus. However, recent studies have indicated that hard times forced the dinosaurs to eat their dead at some point.
After careful analysis of 2,368 bones that were found at the quarry, scientists noticed bite marks on many of them that were made by theropod dinosaurs. In fact, a whopping 29% of them (684 bones) showed at least one bite mark that was made from a theropod. And based on the serrated teeth, it was more than likely the predatorial Allosaurus that made most of the teeth marks.
While the majority of the bite marks were discovered on plant-eating reptiles, 17% of the tooth impressions were made on the bones of other theropods. Since the dinosaur that was bit and the one that did the biting were from the same Allosaurus genus, this means that members of the same species sometimes ate each other. Interestingly enough, Tyrannosaurus rex and Majungatholus have also been known to feast on their own kind, however, this is the first time that scientists have found proof of cannibalism among the Allosaurus genus.
Stephanie Drumheller, who is a professor of paleontology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and the lead author of the study, explained that in hard times, the dinosaurs would have had no choice but to eat deceased members of the own species in order to survive. “Big theropods like Allosaurus probably weren’t particularly picky eaters, especially if their environments were already strapped for resources,” she said, adding, “Scavenging and even cannibalism were definitely on the table.”
Another interesting fact is that based on the bite marks, it seems as though the cannibal was only looking for a snack and didn’t kill the deceased dinosaur by biting it. Over half of the bite marks were located on bony parts of the body that lacked a lot of meat, such as spinal columns, toes, and fingers. Desperate times call for desperate measures…