Teeth analysis of three different carnivorous dinosaur types show similarities between how different reptiles hunted and ate, according to a new study in the journal Current Biology.
The research revealed that various carnivorous species, despite preying on different animals, used similar hunting tactics. A group of international researchers made this discovery by analyzing the wear on fossilized teeth.
In the study, the team specifically looked at the teeth of predatory theropods from the Upper Cretaceous. That revealed the animals used the “puncture and pull” method of feeding where they first punctured the skin and then pulled back while still biting down.
That was shown through parallel scratches that typically appear when animals bite down, as well as a series of oblique scratches that form when the head is pulled back. The distinct marks were on all the remains looked at in the study.
“We found the microwear patterns were similar in all of the teeth we examined, regardless of the size of the dinosaur, the size of the tooth or the shape of the denticles,” explained study co-author Ryan Wilkinson, a researcher at the University of Alberta Department of Biological Sciences, in a statement.
While all the theropods appeared to have similar hunting methods, researchers also found they did not hunt the same prey because of key differences in teeth shape and size. Those discrepancies meant that some teeth were stronger and some were weaker.
For example, though both Dromaeosaurus and Saurornitholestes likely adapted to handle struggling prey, Troodontids preferred to go after softer, smaller animals.
This study is important because it gives a new look into dinosaur evolution and better reveals how certain species interacted. To follow up on the research, the team next plans to develop complex models of teeth to better understand, not just how the dinosaurs ate, but what they ate as well.