It has long been believed that Tyrannosaurus rex he was a meat-eating maniac while he had a long neck dinosaurs leaf-cut serenity in the background. However, a new study shows that dinosaur diets were much more varied than previously thought.
To get a better idea of what different dinosaurs actually ate, paleobiologists from the University of Bristol in England looked Computed tomography (computed tomography). of the skulls of several genera of dinosaurs, including small bipeds Thecodontosaurus and with a long neck Diplodocusboth were considered herbivores, and 3D models of their teeth were created.
“Teeth can give good clues about what an animal is eating because they are our tools for breaking down food.” Antonio Ballell Mayoral (opens in new tab), the study’s lead author and senior research fellow in the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol, told Live Science in an email. “Therefore, it is expected that different tooth shapes will be effective in processing different kinds of food.
“In dinosaurs, we see an impressive variety of tooth types, including bladed, conical, triangular, foliform, etc.,” he added. “This is an indication that dinosaurs evolved different eating habits and specializes in a wide range of diets. Interestingly, many of these different kinds of tooth shapes were already present in the earliest dinosaurs, suggesting that they may have been quite different.”
The researchers then compared the shape and function (bite force) of dinosaur teeth to those of living reptiles, such as different species lizardincluding lizards and skinks, as well as geckos, snakes and crocodiles.
Related: Guts of voracious meat-eating dinosaur preserved in extremely rare fossil
“Our knowledge of the relationship between tooth shape and diet is based on information from living species,” Ballell Mayoral said. “For example, sharp and curved teeth are better at piercing and cutting soft food items like meat, and are typical of carnivores. On the other hand, straight teeth with dentures [serrations] they are more efficient at breaking down harder objects, such as some plants and insect exoskeletons, and are present in herbivores and insectivores.”
As an example, Ballell Mayoral pointed to the eating habits of some of the earliest known dinosaurs, including bipedal theropods, armored ornithischians and long-necked sauropods.
“Some of the first dinosaurs [such as theropods] classified as carnivores in our study have teeth similar to those of monitor lizards, pointed, curved and finely serrated,” he said. dinosaurs classified as herbivores [like the ornithischians and sauropodomorphs.]”
In fact, the ancestors of herbivorous dinosaurs did not limit themselves to salad. Instead, they probably ate meat and insects, just like the predators that preyed on them.
The researchers found that many of the early dinosaurs adopted “different eating habits” that were a “very important factor that allows groups of organisms to diversify,” he said.
“This study is the first to demonstrate with modern statistical methods that early dinosaurs explored different food types and were ecologically diverse,” he said. “Our research supports that two of the three major dinosaur lineages that adapted to a plant diet did not start out as herbivores. The sauropods, its early relatives Diplodocus and other long-necked giants, which switched from carnivores to herbivores during the Triassic period. And the first avians, which led to herbivorous dinosaurs like Triceratops and dinosaurs much later may have preferred an omnivorous diet.”
And yes, T. rex he was really a meat lover.
The findings were published Dec. 16 in the journal Advances in Science (opens in new tab).