Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Battle scars found on an ancient sea monster

06.05.2011
Scars on the jaw of a 120 million year old marine reptile suggest that life might not have been easy in the ancient polar oceans. The healed bite wounds were probably made by a member of the same species. Such injuries give important clues about the social behaviour of extinct sea creatures from the time of dinosaurs. The find is described in a forthcoming issue of Acta Palaeontologica Polonica.

Found in the remote desert near the town of Marree in northern South Australia, the fossilised skeleton belonged to an ichthyosaur, a dolphin-like marine reptile that lived during the 'Age of Dinosaurs'. Ichthyosaurs were fast swimming predators that fed on fish and squid-like animals. Adults would have been around six metres in length and had long-snouted heads with over 100 pointed, crocodile-like teeth.

When the ichthyosaur was alive, the Australian continent was still joined to Antarctica and would have been much further south than it is today close to the southern polar circle. What is now arid grassland was then the bottom of a vast inland sea that experienced freezing water temperatures and even seasonal icebergs.

The surprising discovery of well preserved bite marks on the bones of the ichthyosaur's lower jaw were made during painstaking cleaning and reassembly of its skeleton in the laboratory. Evidence of advanced healing indicates that the animal survived the attack and lived on for some time afterwards.

“Pathological traces on ancient fossilised bones and teeth give unique insights into the lives and social behaviours of extinct animals” says Benjamin Kear, one of the authors of the study and an Assistant Professor with the Palaeobiology Programme at Uppsala University. “Such finds have also rarely been reported in ichthyosaurs before”.

The size and spacing of the tooth marks do match any potential predators or prey. Rather, they are most consistent with another adult ichthyosaur, suggesting that the wounds were inflicted during combat over food, mates or territory. Facial biting is a common social interaction observed in animals today and is often directed towards restraining the opponents jaws.

For more information, please contact:
Benjamin Kear
Tel: +46-18-471 2738
E-mail: benjamin.kear@geo.uu.se
Read the article in Acta Palaeontologica Polonica. Advance online version.
MARIA ZAMMIT and BENJAMIN P. KEAR
Zammit, M. and Kear, B.P. 201X. Healed bite marks on a Cretaceous ichthyosaur. Acta

Palaeontologica Polonica 5X (X): xxx-xxx. doi:10.4202/app.2010.0117

Benjamin Kear | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uu.se

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Citizen science campaign to aid disaster response
28.04.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht From volcano's slope, NASA instrument looks sky high and to the future
27.04.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

How Plants Form Their Sugar Transport Routes

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

Protein 'spy' gains new abilities

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

Researchers unravel the social network of immune cells

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>