Bite traces on dicynodont bones and the early evolution of large terrestrial predators

Authors

  • GRZEGORZ NIEDŹWIEDZKI,

  • PRZEMYSŁAW GORZELAK,

  • TOMASZ SULEJ


Grzegorz Niedźwiedzki [gniedzwiedzki@biol.uw.edu.pl] Department of Paleobiology and Evolution, Faculty of Biology, Warsaw University, Banacha Str. 2, PL-02-097 Warszawa, Poland and Institute of Paleobiology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Twarda Str. 51/55, PL-00-818 Warszawa, Poland; Przemysław Gorzelak [pgorzelak@twarda.pan.pl] and Tomasz Sulej [sulej@twarda.pan.pl], Institute of Paleobiology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Twarda Str. 51/55, PL-00-818 Warszawa, Poland; manuscript received on 1/3/2010; manuscript accepted on 20/4/2010.

Abstract

Niedźwiedzki, G., Gorzelak, P. & Sulej, T. 2010: Bite traces on dicynodont bones and the early evolution of large terrestrial predators. Lethaia, Vol. 44, pp. 87–92.

Dicynodont (Synapsida: Anomodontia) bones from the Late Triassic (late Norian/early Rhaetian) of Poland yield characteristic tooth marks that can be attributed to three ichnotaxa (Linichnus serratus, Knethichnus parallelum and Nihilichnus nihilicus). The general shape and dimension of these traces perfectly match the dental morphology of a co-occurring carnivorous dinosaur. It is therefore concluded that early carnivorous dinosaurs were feeding on dicynodonts. This discovery constitutes one of the oldest evidence of dinosaur predator–prey interaction. It is suggested that an evolutionary increase in the size of dicynodonts across the Late Triassic may have been driven by selection pressure to reach a size refuge from early dinosaur predators. □Bite traces, dicynodonts, dinosaurs, predation, Triassic.

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