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Shellfish Surprise: Common ‘Herbivore’ Dinosaur Found To Snack On Crustaceans

A duck-billed dinosaur skeleton, that a researchers cruise ate crustaceans, on arrangement in 2009 during a Venetian Resort Hotel Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images


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Ethan Miller/Getty Images

A duck-billed dinosaur skeleton, that a researchers cruise ate crustaceans, on arrangement in 2009 during a Venetian Resort Hotel Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Fossilized dinosaur feces are severe some simple assumptions about dinosaur eating habits.

Hadrosaurs, a kind of duck-billed dinosaur, are among a many common herbivores of a Cretaceous period. But new investigate suggests that actually, these animals also chowed down on crustaceans. The antiquated snacking was expected conscious and related to mating behaviors.

The scientists found tell-tale crustacean bombard pieces in samples of fossilized dinosaur feces about 75 million year aged from a Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah.

“I immediately said, ‘Oh, no, no, it can’t be crustaceans.’ That was my knee jerk reaction,” Karen Chin tells The Two-Way. She’s a curator of paleontology during University of Colorado Boulder’s Museum of Natural History and a co-author of a paper published currently in Scientific Reports.

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“I was unequivocally astounded though we cruise it reminds us that there’s a lot we only don’t know about a function of ancient animals,” she said.

It’s not totally certain that a samples are from hadrosaurs – though they were common in a area and Chin says a samples strongly resemble others from hadrosaurs that she’s worked with, both in distance and content.

The samples also enclose pieces of ebbing wood, that suggests that a molluscs expected lived within rotting logs. There are a few reasons because Chin thinks a crustacean snacking was not accidental, simply stowed divided on a punch of decaying wood.

First, molluscs were found in during slightest 10 out of 15 deposits studied, widespread over a 20-kilometer area and potentially over hundreds of years. “This was unequivocally a repeated diet,” she says.

The aspect of knobby crustacean bombard bit embedded in fossilized feces samples from Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah.

Karen Chin/Denver Museum of Nature Science


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Karen Chin/Denver Museum of Nature Science

Second, “they were flattering good-sized crustaceans,” Chin says, with an estimated length of during slightest 5 centimeters. The fact that these molluscs were a satisfactory commission of a breadth of a skull of a dinosaurs [means] they would have had a choice to reject it if it wasn’t possibly a preferred or excusable food source.”

In fact, Chin proposes that eating molluscs was why these animals ate rotting logs in a initial place.

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They were expected seeking some additional protein during tact season, she says, “because when animals lay eggs they need towering levels of protein and calcium in sequence to bombard their eggs and sustenance a yolks for their embryos. And they need it flattering rapidly.”

And a record would yield a predicted source of animal protein. After all, “you can’t suppose them using after a moth to get protein,” Chin adds.

When it was not mating season, Chin believes that they ate foliage, a kind of diet we routinely prognosticate for these vast (mostly) herbivores.

What’s more, she thinks that this kind of feeding function could be benefaction in other ornithischians – such as triceratops and stegosaurus – as good as vast sauropods like brontosaurus.

“All of these dinosaurs laid eggs,” Chin says, “and so we have to cruise a fact that they competence have also have had to boost their protein intake.”

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Some complicated birds that are mostly herbivores start eating some-more protein before tact for a same reason.

This anticipating seems to plea a picture of vast herbivores found in cartoons or cinema — solemnly logging between shaggy trees and chomping on foliage.

“I cruise it means we have to fine-tune a perceptions of many of a vast herbivorous dinosaurs,” she says. “And meaningful that during slightest some of them – we can’t contend all of them during this indicate – though during slightest some of them spasmodic sundry their diet to eat some-more animal products is unequivocally intriguing.”