Dinosaurs ate babies, according to a report in ScienceDaily 6 Aug 2009. Large dinosaurs with big teeth like T rex are usually portrayed as savage killers that hunted the big vegetarian dinosaurs and ripped them to pieces, or fought to the death with each other. However, Oliver Rauhut, palaeontologist at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich, and his colleague David Hone have reviewed the fossil evidence and concluded that the big predatory dinosaurs fed on juveniles and babies, rather than adult prey. Rauhut explained: “Animals such as Tyrannosaurus are often seen as the perfect ‘killing machines’ with extremely powerful bites, which were able to bring down even the largest possible prey. But the very few fossils that reflect the hunt of predatory dinosaurs on large herbivores tell a tale of failure – the prey either got away, or both prey and predator were killed.”

Direct evidence of what dinosaurs ate from fossilised stomach contents and coprolites (fossil dung) indicates that “juveniles or much smaller prey species were ingested and the latter were swallowed whole.” Hone commented: “Even modern predators prefer old and sick animals or unexperienced young individuals. These are an easy prey to bring down and the risk of injury for the predator is much lower. This strategy was probably the same in dinosaurs.” Rauhut and Hone also suggest that the bones of juveniles swallowed whole would be a good source of minerals in the diet of large dinosaurs. Modern day crocodiles are able to digest bones of small animals with their very strong stomach acid. Maybe dinosaurs could do the same. The researchers also commented that juvenile dinosaurs were relatively rare in the fossil record and suggested this was because many had been eaten by predators.


Editorial Comment: The more scientists study T. rex the more it sheds its fierce predator image. It had shallow rooted teeth, tiny arms and could not run fast. Therefore, it is more likely to be a scavenger rather than hunter. Rauhut and Hone’s collection of evidence fits into Biblical history which tells us that all animals started out vegetarian, but after the Fall of Man the world began to degenerate and death entered the world. By Noah’s day some animals had become scavengers and ate dead things. After Noah’s Flood the environment was a lot tougher so animals ate whatever they could to survive, including juveniles of their own kind. This may have provided minerals for the adults, but it would have hastened the extinction of the species. (Ref. diet, nutrients, fossil)

Evidence News 24 Mar 2010