Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Dinosaur, crab fossils reveal ecosystem secrets

11.03.2003


This well-preserved fossil of a crab was found within inches of a dinosaur tail in Egypt’s Bahariya Oasis, the first evidence in literature of the two found together. The find helps piece together what ancient envrionments might have been like


For centuries, they wouldn’t be caught dead next to each other.

But now a team of geologists directed by Joshua Smith, Ph.D., assistant professor of earth and planetary sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, have found a well-preserved fossil of a crab within inches of a tail vertebra from a massive plant-eating dinosaur.

This well-preserved fossil of a crab was found within inches of a dinosaur tail in Egypt’s Bahariya Oasis, the first evidence in literature of the two found together. The find helps piece together what ancient envrionments might have been like.


The find, in Egypt’s Bahariya Oasis, is the first instance of a crab fossil found with a dinosaur fossil. It reveals much about both species and the kind of ecosystem where the fossils were found, thought to be a predator-rich mangrove setting dominated by tree ferns and other coastal plants, similar to Florida’s swampy Everglades. The rocks containing these fossils are about 94 million years old, which means they date back to the Cretaceous Period, which lasted from 130-65 million years.

"The two normally don’t hang with each other, or they are at least not commonly discovered together," said Smith, of crabs and dinosaurs. Smith made international news in 2001 when he and collaborators published results of their discovery of the second most massive dinosaur ever unearthed, Paralititan stromeri, in the same part of the Bahariya Oasis. "There have been anecdotal mentions of crabs with dinosaurs, but those remains turned out to be lobsters or ghost shrimp. Even if the time gap between the two is thousands of years, we have visual proof of these two coexisting together. This is a nice surprise. It fills in more about this kind of ecosystem."

The results are in a paper that will be published later this year in the Journal of Paleontology.

Smith and collaborators from the University of Pennsylvania, the Cairo Geological Museum, and Drexel University discovered the fossils in 2001, on an expedition for dinosaur bones. They found a dinosaur tailbone, fossil plants and the crab, all within a foot-and-a-half of each other. Because there have been informal (though never published in peer-review journals) mentions of crabs being part of ecosystems where dinosaur bones have been found, and more importantly because he isn’t qualified to describe a crab, Smith wanted to clarify and sought geologist Carrie E. Schweitzer, Ph.D., of the Kent State University Department of Geology.

"As far as we can tell from the literature, this is the first confirmed notice of a crab associated with a dinosaur," said Schweitzer, who is the lead author on the crab paper. "The find is significant because it permits paleontologists to frame a very diverse -- and thus much more accurate -- description of what these ancient environments would have looked like.

"The deposits that enclose the dinosaur and the crab also contain crocodile-like animals, various invertebrates, fish, sharks, plesiosaurs, a kind of reptile, and turtles as well as plant material. Thus, we have a very complete idea of what types of organisms comprised the ecosystem."

Crabs, "brachyuran decapods" in technical jargon, from coastal habitats are uncommon in the fossil record because their remains rapidly disintegrate, either from decomposition or scavenging by other predators. The geologists think that the crabs of the Bahariya Formation probably were scavengers that fed on vegetation and other organic material. They were a possible food source for fish and other vertebrates and invertebrates in the ecosystem.

Smith speculates that it is possible that small or baby dinosaurs might have fed on the crabs, but said speculation is the most he can do.

"This would have been a very productive place biologically, for crabs, they would have been very happy here," Smith said. "Almost everything we’re finding at the site is a predator. I could see a baby Spinosaurus picking up mangrove crabs, but it’s all speculation because we have no solid proof of what dinosaurs ate."

Tony Fitzpatrick | Washington University in St. Lou
Further information:
http://dept.kent.edu/geology/people/schweitzer.html
http://www.egyptdinos.org/
http://news-info.wustl.edu/tips/2003/science-tech/smith.html

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Monitoring lava lake levels in Congo volcano
16.05.2018 | Seismological Society of America

nachricht Ice stream draining Greenland Ice Sheet sensitive to changes over past 45,000 years
14.05.2018 | Oregon State University

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

Im Focus: Entangled atoms shine in unison

A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.

The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...

Im Focus: Computer-Designed Customized Regenerative Heart Valves

Cardiovascular tissue engineering aims to treat heart disease with prostheses that grow and regenerate. Now, researchers from the University of Zurich, the Technical University Eindhoven and the Charité Berlin have successfully implanted regenerative heart valves, designed with the aid of computer simulations, into sheep for the first time.

Producing living tissue or organs based on human cells is one of the main research fields in regenerative medicine. Tissue engineering, which involves growing...

Im Focus: Light-induced superconductivity under high pressure

A team of scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg investigated optically-induced superconductivity in the alkali-doped fulleride K3C60under high external pressures. This study allowed, on one hand, to uniquely assess the nature of the transient state as a superconducting phase. In addition, it unveiled the possibility to induce superconductivity in K3C60 at temperatures far above the -170 degrees Celsius hypothesized previously, and rather all the way to room temperature. The paper by Cantaluppi et al has been published in Nature Physics.

Unlike ordinary metals, superconductors have the unique capability of transporting electrical currents without any loss. Nowadays, their technological...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Supersonic waves may help electronics beat the heat

18.05.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Keeping a Close Eye on Ice Loss

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

CrowdWater: An App for Flood Research

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>