It seems that the aquatic dinosaur and land-based dinosaur interacted more than thought previously. They not only interacted, they fought vigorously, according to a new study published earlier this month in the German journal Naturwissenschaften. Paleontologists found 200 million old tooth lodged in the thigh bone of the largest predator of that time.
Scientists at the University of Tennessee (UT) say the tooth, which belonged to a semi-aquatic, crocodile-like phytosaur, was buried about two inches deep in the bone of a terrestrial rauisuchid, a 25-foot-long dinosaur that was four-feet-high at the hip. The authors who discovered the prehistoric tooth commented on the significance of their research. “To find a phytosaur tooth in the bone of a rauisuchid is very surprising. These rauisuchids were the largest predators in their environments. You might expect them to be the top predators as well, but here we have evidence of phytosaurs, who were smaller, semi-aquatic animals, potentially targeting and eating these big carnivores,” said study author Drumheller.
“Finding teeth embedded directly in fossil bone is very, very rare,” Drumheller noted, speaking of the bone obtained from the University of California Museum of Paleontology in Berkeley. “This is the first time it’s been identified among phytosaurs, and it gives us a smoking gun for interpreting this set of bite marks.”
“This research will call for us to go back and look at some of the assumptions we’ve had in regard to the Late Triassic ecosystems,” Virgina Tech’s Stocker and paper co-author said. “The aquatic and terrestrial distinctions made were oversimplified, and I think we’ve made the case that the two spheres were intimately connected.”