Dinosaur tooth points to ancient battle of land and sea


This is a reconstruction of the interaction of large land predators (rauisuchid) and aquatic predator (phytosaur) about 210 million years ago based on research by a joint team of University of Tennessee and Virginia Tech researchers. Christopher Hayes, a freshman at Virginia Tech, composed the drawing.
Chris Hayes

The tooth of a semi-aquatic dinosaur, known as a phytosaur, has been found lodged in the thigh bone of a land-based rauischid.

The 220-million year old find is challenging assumptions about how ancient land-based reptiles interacted with aquatic creatures.

The phytosaur tooth was lodged in the rauischid’s thighbone, which healed over – indicating that the eight metre long land-based creature survived the initial attack.

Stephanie Drumheller, an earth and planetary sciences lecturer at the University of Tennessee, and her colleagues Michelle Stocker and Sterling Nesbitt published their findings in the German online journal The Science of Nature.

“To find a phytosaur tooth in the bone of a rauischid is very surprising. These rauischids were the largest predators in their environments. You might expect them to be the top predaotrs as well, but here we have evidence of phytosaurs, who were smaller … potentially targetting and eating these big carnivores,” Drumheller said.

The bones were obtained from the University of California Museum of Palaeontology. The findings also suggest that distinctions made about the food chains of water and land-based creatures in the Late Triassic period might need to be re-examined.

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