The teeth indicate that the ancestors of the double focus probably ate meat

With its massive feet, long neck, and penchant for vegans, this mix may be one of the biggest vegans in history. But research has revealed that the ancestors of sauropods may have had a taste for meat.

Scientists studying the teeth of some of the earliest dinosaurs that roamed the Earth say they have discovered telltale evidence of what they ate.

Dr Antonio Palil Mayoral, lead author of the research from the University of Bristol, said that while carnivores, herbivores and carnivores were all present in the Triassic period, their ancestors did not necessarily share the same diets.

“The early members of two major lineages of plant-based dinosaurs were not exclusively herbivores,” he said.

Writing in the journal Science Advances, Palil and his colleagues analyzed the teeth of 11 early dinosaurs. Gray headAnd the It is a long-necked ancestor of the sauropods, f Lesothosaurus Diagnosisan early “bird-legged” dinosaur, both of which lived about 200 million years ago.

“The teeth can give good clues about what an animal is eating because they are our tools for breaking down food,” Palil said.

In addition to looking at the shape and function of the dinosaur’s teeth, the team made computer models of how pressure was distributed on them when biting.

Scientists have found that the earliest relatives of sauropods were apparently carnivores based on their curved, blunt teeth. Photography: Antonio Palil

The team then fed the results into machine learning algorithms based on the dental features and diets of 47 living reptiles such as iguanas, geckos, snakes and crocodiles. This allowed the researchers to investigate what types of food the first dinosaurs might have eaten.

The results reveal that time Gray head And other relatives of the first sauropods They were probably herbivores, those who lived even earlier – like Buriolestes Schulzewhich roamed up to 237 million years ago – appears to have been a carnivore based on its curved, scaly teeth, similar to those of today’s Komodo dragons, along with how those teeth manipulated the forces associated with feeding.

It also appears to be the ancestors of the two-thighed dinosaurs known as ornithischians — a largely plant-eating group that includes horn-faced dinosaurs like Triceratops and armored dinosaurs like Stegosaurus — may have also been aware of the taste for meat. As the authors note, Lesothosaurus Diagnosis It had teeth with greater mechanical resistance than those typical of carnivores, indicating that although it could have been a herbivore, it could also have been an omnivore.

The researchers wrote that the dinosaurs’ early dietary diversity was key to their later rise and dominance, allowing them to adapt to changing climate and food resources.

Balil said that while the first dinosaurs were traditionally thought to be carnivores, recent discoveries have challenged this. However, Bristol’s research indicates that carnivores are likely ancestral.

Professor Steve Brusatte, a paleontologist at the University of Edinburgh who was not involved in the work, described the research as innovative and inspiring.

“We have long wondered how the first dinosaurs managed to outlast their competitors and sweep the world by storm. This new study uses cutting-edge methods to study the diets of the oldest dinosaurs in unprecedented detail.”

“It seems likely that the first dinosaurs were carnivores, and that different groups of dinosaurs changed their diet over time, and this may have helped diversify them,” Brusatte added. “Some of the earliest dinosaurs were already experimenting with a wide variety of foods and feeding patterns, and I’m sure this played an important role in helping dinosaurs fill many niches and achieve success.”

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