“Mom, I’m a vegetarian now!” It may have been the same with dinosaurs – only over the course of many generations. In any case, the ancestors of some herbivorous dinosaurs, such as the long-necked Diplodocus, were carnivores. This was reported by a team of paleontologists led by Antonio Palil of the University of Bristol in the journal Science advances.
The researchers wanted to determine the feeding habits of the dinosaurs. To do this, they used a computer-aided 3D model to compare the shape and function of the teeth of eleven dinosaurs from the upper Triassic period, about 230 million years ago, with 47 living reptiles. They discovered that carnivores, such as crocodiles, have relatively weak teeth compared to herbivorous reptiles. This is probably because plants are more difficult to chew than the soft meat of vertebrates. The teeth of carnivorous dinosaurs were sharp and pointed; According to scientists, such teeth are good for tearing meat. On the other hand, the teeth of herbivores tend to be sharp and bumpy, which allows them to pierce plant tissues; They looked like the teeth of iguanas, for example.
The ability to modify their diet was a key factor in the success of the dinosaurs
study co-author Emily Raifield says in a statement from the university. “Another interesting discovery is that the ancestors of long-necked plant-based dinosaurs like Diplodocus were carnivores.”
The first dinosaurs lived 235 million years ago. Then, 201 million years ago, the fifth largest mass extinction known in history occurred. This is known as the Triassic-Jurassic boundary. Something must have happened early in the Triassic period that allowed the dinosaurs to survive and adapt to the mass extinction. “It seems that one of the things that made the first dinosaurs special was that they evolved different diets during the Triassic period,” says Antonio Balil, according to the university. “We think this may be the key to their evolutionary and ecological success.”
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