News / Science & Technology

New Dinosaur Species Was Crocodile Snack

Clint Boyd, Ph.D., of the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, points to a crocodyliform tooth embedded in the femur of a young dinosaur. (South Dakota School of Mines & Technology)
Clint Boyd, Ph.D., of the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, points to a crocodyliform tooth embedded in the femur of a young dinosaur. (South Dakota School of Mines & Technology)
Faith Lapidus
Scientists in Utah have uncovered evidence of a new species of plant-eating dinosaur that used to be a popular snack for prehistoric crocodiles.

Clint Boyd, of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, discovered evidence of the new species in a collection of small bits of fossil bones found in the western state.

While examining the tiny bones for skull fragments with teeth in them, he found a bone with what looked like enamel in it, only it wasn't a piece of a skull; it was the end of a femur.

“A thigh bone, which actually has a crocodile tooth stuck in it and broken off," Boyd says. "And then, as we started looking on the other bones, we started finding marks that are known to be diagnostic for crocodilian feeding traits.”

Boyd and his team realized they had evidence that these ancient reptiles, known as crocodyliforms, attacked their prey in a manner very much like modern crocodiles.

They determined that what the crocodyliforms were eating was a previously-unrecognized small bipedal dinosaur species. The fossil bones belonged to baby dinosaurs who were 1 to 2-meters long.

Boyd says the finding shows that the popular image of dinosaurs as the dominant species needs to be revised.

“Little baby dinosaurs, they are normally having to worry about the theropod dinosaurs, velociraptors, T. rex, things like that," Boyd says. "So this kind of adds a new dimension to going and getting water. You also had your dominant riverine carnivores, the crocodilians, attacking these herbivores as well, so they kind of had it coming from all sides.”

Based on the teeth marks on the fossils, and the fact that there are many bone fragments, the paleontologists believe the crocodilians were not much bigger than their prey.

The newly identified dinosaur species has not yet been named.

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by: John
March 02, 2013 4:49 PM
As crocodiles have been around since the time of the dinosaurs, claims that they need to be protected are unnecessary folly. When the body of the last man rolls, rotting, down the river, there'll be a crocodile there to snap up the tasty morsel. In the meantime, we're in charge, and there's no reason we should stand any nonsense. All crocodiles should be shot on sight, as they were in the good old days!!

by: John Ochsner
March 02, 2013 1:11 PM
Of course the fossils are millions of years old. To deny this is saying the earth is flat. The fossil record is far from complete, but still is a fasinating look at a time we can barly imagine.

by: Kitagawa Keikoh from: Jiyugaoka, JPN
March 01, 2013 6:18 PM
It is amazing we can understand how old spices like dinosaurs were living on the Earth.
But, that is just for interest of scientists and not to improve our life on the Earth. That is not a term of science, but it is just history.

by: Babu G. Ranganathan
March 01, 2013 11:51 AM
NOT MILLIONS OF YEARS OLD! Evolutionary dating methods are not infallible and far from accurate. Please read my popular Internet article, ARE FOSSILS REALLY MILLIONS OF YEARS OLD? Check out some of my Internet articles and sites: NATURAL LIMITS OF EVOLUTION, WAR AMONG EVOLUTIONISTS (2nd Edition), NO HALF-EVOLVED DINOSAURS, DOES GOD PARTICLE EXPLAIN UNIVERSE'S ORIGIN? THE SCIENCE SUPPORTING CREATION Author of the popular Internet article, TRADITIONAL DOCTRINE OF HELL EVOLVED FROM GREEK ROOTS

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