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Typically, when an individual browses through various newspapers or watches the evening news they are most likely to see or hear some new and groundbreaking news concerning a scientific breakthrough. As I was looking through various scientific journals I came across an article that caught my eye for numerous reasons, but one in particular. The heading of the article read, “Cannibal dinosaurs revealed by tooth marks.” These prehistoric creatures that have been viewed by the public for centuries as being wild and ferocious beasts, are presently being seen more then just that. Recent evidence originating in Madagascar is leading researches in the direction that dinosaurs consumption of food did not strictly adhere to the food chain but instead fed amongst their own kind.
This recent discovery has left scientists with many questions to be answered. The discovery is quite important because any research up until now has failed to uncover any evidence that would reveal that dinosaurs fed among their own kind. Ray Rogers whom has been leading the ten-year excavation states in the article that there are at least 14 current day animals that still practice cannibalism such as lions, komodo dragons, crocodiles, hyenas, black bears and grasshopper mice, but in contrast, any evidence of cannibalism among dinosaurs is sparse.
This article was also particularly interesting to me because this is a recent find and there is little to no literature published concerning the idea that dinosaurs may have been cannibals. This is a new fossil find in which makes any and all research being administered equally as important. The time period of these fossils date back nearly 65 to 75 million years ago to the late –Cretaceous period when dinosaurs neared the end of their existence on earth. The fossils that have been discovered that tend to persuade researchers to believe dinosaurs were cannibals have been located in Northwest Madagascar’s bone beds. Rogers states, “ Fossilized soil samples from the same region are red and oxidized, hinting that the area was arid, with food in short supply. The animals may have traveled to the river to find sustenance and died there.
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Researchers have found the fossils of what they believe to be the remains of a Majungatholus atopus, a meat eating, two -legged dinosaur that measured 9 meters from nose to tail. Ray Rogers from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and his colleagues analyzed more then 20 gnarled bones that were found in three separate locations in Madagascar. Rogers states, “Never have I seen material so chewed on.” Research has shown that dinosaur’s teeth were primarily adapted for ripping meat rather then for crunching bones which makes it all the more puzzling that scientists would find bones that have been chewed through.
Researchers have found bones that have been so badly chewed that they can come to no other conclusion then the dinosaur was trying to eat the other dinosaur and not just wounds inflicted through typical altercations. Rogers says, “ The bones have been mauled, much as coyote might chew a cow. There are parallel sets of tooth marks, centimeters apart, across the ribs and backbones. The spacing and shape of the imprints do not match the dental profile of other animals that are known to have been alive at the time.”
As researchers continued to comb the mass graveyards located in Madagascar they found a fossil that only proved their hypothesis to a higher degree concerning dinosaurs and their cannibalism. Researchers found the skeletal remains of an older yet smaller predator called Coeleophysis. This fossil was found with what looked like the remains of a juvenile Coeleophysis located in its guts. With further research and analysis researchers recent study reveals that the juvenile bones may lie below rather than inside. This tends to lean scientists towards the idea that the dinosaur was not pregnant but rather it ate its young.
The article continues to unravel research that has been conducted that gives an explanation as to why the dinosaurs may have turned on one and other and ate each other. As recently stated, the area where the bones were located was at one time an arid area where there was little vegetation, water and in relation little life. The research conducted makes scientists think that there was such a small resource of food that
the dinosaurs had to turn to cannibalism to survive. Although researcher have found evidence what they believe shows that dinosaurs were cannibals also shows them that they fed on other dinosaurs as well. The article states that, “ Majungatholus did not dine exclusively on its own kind. Similar markings on a pelvic bone from a huge sauropod- a long –necked, pea-headed herbivore – suggest that the beast also ate other dinosaurs.”
Recent research not only reveals that dinosaurs may have been cannibals but it also gives scientists and the rest of the population some incite in to the behavior of these prehistoric creatures. Eric Buffetaut of France’s National Center for Scientific Research in Paris says, “ These finds represent real evidence about how creatures actually behaved. A lot of what we hear and read about dinosaurs behavior is guesswork.”
With any type of literature one must be careful of what they take in as non- fiction and what they disbelieve and see at fiction. One must never believe what they read with 100 percent certainty until they have had all of the facts. This is why I have chosen an article and then researched it back to where it originated. By doing so, it allows me as a reader to get the information that has been cut short and made to sound all sweet and simple for obvious reasons and then trace it back to the original data that gives more detailed evidence regarding the topic. By having both articles in front of me I am able to see if there are any discrepancies in what one article says in comparison with the other article.
After reading both articles I have come to the conclusion that the article that preceded the first article contains the same valid information. There does not seem to be any discrepancies between either article. Every fact that shows up in one article also shows up in the preceding article which makes me more open to consider or believe the fact that dinosaurs in fact may have been cannibals. As I was reading and rereading the articles I could not find any reasons to have any uncertainties regarding the facts. I could not find, within the text, any data or study that would lead me to believe the research conducted in Madagascar was flawed in any way. With that I did not feel that there were any embellishments made as well.
These articles contain very important information that may equip us with the knowledge to open doors to future research and discoveries concerning dinosaurs and their behavior. As stated in the articles, a great deal of information that we have concerning dinosaurs behavior is juts an educated guess. This new research and discovery is important because it is data that shows us how dinosaurs may have acted back 70
million years. We finally have some evidence that reveals to us some behavior of these prehistoric creatures.
1. Rogers, R.R, Krause, D.W. & Rogers, KC. Majungatholus atopus, the dinosaur cannibal of Madagascar. Nature, 422, 515-518, (2003).