Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The terrible teens of T. rex

03.11.2009
NIU scientists: Young tyrannosaurs did serious battle against each other

We all know adolescents get testy from time to time. Thank goodness we don't have young tyrannosaurs running around the neighborhood.

In a new scientific paper, researchers from Northern Illinois University and the Burpee Museum of Natural History in Rockford report that adolescent tyrannosaurs got into some serious scraps with their peers.

The evidence can be found on Jane, the museum’s prized juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex, discovered in 2001 in Montana.

Jane’s fossils show that she sustained a serious bite that punctured through the bone of the dinosaur’s left upper jaw and snout in four places, the researchers report. The injury wasn’t life threatening and eventually healed over, according to the scientists. The bite did leave scars, however.

“Jane has what we call a boxer’s nose,” says Joe Peterson, an NIU Ph.D. candidate in geology and lead author of the study published in the November issue of the journal, Palaios. “Her snout bends slightly to the left. It was probably broken and healed back crooked.”

The researchers determined that another juvenile tyrannosaur was responsible for the injury.

“Only a few animals could have inflicted the wound,” Peterson says, noting that the bite marks were oblong-shaped. A crocodile or an adult T. rex would have left different types of bite marks.

“When we looked at the jaw and teeth of Jane, we realized her bite would have produced a very close match to the injuries on her own face,” Peterson says. “That leads us to believe she was attacked by a member of the same species that was about the same age. Because the wound had healed, we think this happened when Jane was possibly a few years younger.”

Peterson and Mike Henderson, curator of earth sciences at the Burpee Museum and also a Ph.D. candidate in geology at NIU, were members of the museum group that unearthed the pristine dinosaur skeleton. NIU Presidential Research Professor Reed Scherer, also among the new study’s authors, worked as an adviser on the find.

“What’s unique about this work is we learn something very, very specific about juvenile dinosaur behavior,” Scherer says. “This was an animal about the same size that attacked Jane. Whether it was a sibling or from a rival group, we don’t know, but it’s fun to speculate.”

The sex of Jane, who was named after a museum donor, is unknown. The dinosaur was young when it died, but the Burpee Museum’s display leaves no doubt that it was still a creature to be reckoned with. Twenty-two feet long and 7-1/2 feet high at the hip, the young dinosaur tipped the scales at about 1,500 pounds. And it was built to kill, with 71 serrated teeth.

Still, Jane was vastly smaller than an adult T. rex. After much study and consultation with leading U.S. dinosaur experts, Henderson, who led the Montana expeditions, announced in 2006 that Jane was a late juvenile T. rex, about 11 or 12 years old.

“The study of the bite marks on Jane’s face demonstrates that even at a young age this dinosaur was engaging in some pretty serious combat,” Peterson says. He likened the animal to an adolescent that hadn’t quite reached what would have been a huge growth spurt.

The puncture wounds were first noticed several years after the dinosaur was discovered.

“When Jane’s skull was found, the bones were disarticulated, or in pieces,” Peterson says. “I was examining the casts of the skull bones. I saw that when the left maxilla (upper jawbone) was pieced together, it had more holes in it than the right side. And there was a pattern to the gaps in the side of the face.

“The surface of the face and edges around the puncture marks were smooth, indicating that there hadn’t been a fresh break there and the wounds must have healed over while the animal was alive,” he adds.

Dr. Christopher Vittore, a Burpee Museum board member and radiologist at Rockford Memorial Hospital, who also contributed to the study in Palaios, took CT scans of the fossils and confirmed Peterson’s hypothesis.

“CT scans demonstrated that the holes are most consistent with traumatic puncture injuries that had significant time for healing,” Vittore says.

“Complete bone healing requires time for bone remodeling, and CT images show the internal structure of the bone adjacent to the puncture lesions,” Vittore adds. “The internal character of the bone showed the injuries occurred significantly earlier in the animal’s life, and there was time for healing. It also confirmed that there were no other abnormalities in the bone adjacent to the lesions.”

Because the dinosaur had not reached maturity, the researchers concluded that the combat was not likely over sexual conflict or competition but might have been a learning behavior for young dinosaurs prompted by a show of dominance or territorial dispute.

Peterson says other adolescent animals, particularly juvenile crocodiles, exhibit such fighting behavior.

“It's common to find similar puncture marks on young crocodiles,” he says. “We can look at the behavior of these modern living ancestors of dinosaurs and get a good idea of what was going on here.”

A recent study suggested that, in some dinosaurs, apparent bite marks are actually holes in the skull caused by a parasite. Researchers speculated that such a parasitic infection might have led to the demise of Sue, the famous T. rex at the Field Museum in Chicago.

NIU researchers don’t believe a parasite caused Jane’s injuries.

“The parasite that has been described causes lesions on the lower jaw,” Peterson says. “With Jane, the lesions are on the actual face and are not the same type of structures we see on Sue.”

Tom Parisi | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.niu.edu

Further reports about: CT scans NIU T. rex Young tyrannosaurs juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Predicting unpredictability: Information theory offers new way to read ice cores
07.12.2016 | Santa Fe Institute

nachricht Sea ice hit record lows in November
07.12.2016 | University of Colorado at Boulder

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

NTU scientists build new ultrasound device using 3-D printing technology

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling

07.12.2016 | Life Sciences

How to turn white fat brown

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>