Maximum Bite Force and Prey Size of Tyrannosaurus rex and Their Relationships to the Inference of Feeding Behavior
ABSTRACT The feeding behavior of the theropod dinosaur Tyrannosaurus rex is investigated through analysis of two variables that are critical to successful predation, bite force and prey body mass, as they scale with the size of the predator. These size-related variables have important deterministic effects on the predator's feeding strategy, through their effects on lethal capacity and choice of prey. Bite force data compiled for extant predators (crocodylians, carnivorans, chelonians and squamates) are used to establish a relationship between bite force and body mass among extant predators. These data are used to estimate the maximum potential bite force of T. rex, which is between about 183,000 and 235,000 N for a bilateral bite. The relationship between maximum prey body mass and predator body mass among the same living vertebrates is used to infer the likely maximum size of prey taken by T. rex in the Late Cretaceous. This makes it possible to arrive at a more rigorous assessment of the role of T. rex as an active predator and/or scavenger than has hitherto been possible. The results of this analysis show that adult Triceratops horridus fall well within the size range of potential prey that are predicted to be available to a solitary, predaceous T. rex. This analysis establishes boundary conditions for possible predator/prey relationships among other dinosaurs, as well as between these two taxa.
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ABSTRACT: Megaherbivorous dinosaur coexistence on the Late Cretaceous island continent of Laramidia has long puzzled researchers, owing to the mystery of how so many large herbivores (6-8 sympatric species, in many instances) could coexist on such a small (4-7 million km(2)) landmass. Various explanations have been put forth, one of which-dietary niche partitioning-forms the focus of this study. Here, we apply traditional morphometric methods to the skulls of megaherbivorous dinosaurs from the Dinosaur Park Formation (upper Campanian) of Alberta to infer the ecomorphology of these animals and to test the niche partitioning hypothesis. We find evidence for niche partitioning not only among contemporaneous ankylosaurs, ceratopsids, and hadrosaurids, but also within these clades at the family and subfamily levels. Consubfamilial ceratopsids and hadrosaurids differ insignificantly in their inferred ecomorphologies, which may explain why they rarely overlap stratigraphically: interspecific competition prevented their coexistence.PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(7):e67182. · 3.53 Impact Factor
Article: The power of the claw.[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Scratches on bones have routinely been attributed to tooth marks (a predominantly untested speculation), ignoring the effects of claws, perhaps because of the general assumption that claws are too soft to damage bone. However, some pathologies appears to be more compatible with claw rather than tooth impacts. Therefore, it is critical to determine if the claws of any animal are capable of scratching into the surface of any bone - a test and proof of concept. A tiger enrichment program was used to document actual bone damage unequivocally caused by claws, by assuring that the tiger had access to bones only by using its paws (claws). The spectrum of mechanisms causing bone damage was expanded by evidentiary analysis of claw-induced pathology. While static studies suggested that nails/claws could not disrupt bone, specific tiger enrichment activities documented that bones were susceptible to damage from the kinetic energy effect of the striking claw. This documents an expanded differential consideration for scratch marks on bone and evidences the power of the claw.PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(9):e73811. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Morphological convergence is a well documented phenomenon in mammals, and adaptive explanations are commonly employed to infer similar functions for convergent characteristics. I present a study that adopts aspects of theoretical morphology and engineering optimization to test hypotheses about adaptive convergent evolution. Bone-cracking ecomorphologies in Carnivora were used as a case study. Previous research has shown that skull deepening and widening are major evolutionary patterns in convergent bone-cracking canids and hyaenids. A simple two-dimensional design space, with skull width-to-length and depth-to-length ratios as variables, was used to examine optimized shapes for two functional properties: mechanical advantage (MA) and strain energy (SE). Functionality of theoretical skull shapes was studied using finite element analysis (FEA) and visualized as functional landscapes. The distribution of actual skull shapes in the landscape showed a convergent trend of plesiomorphically low-MA and moderate-SE skulls evolving towards higher-MA and moderate-SE skulls; this is corroborated by FEA of 13 actual specimens. Nevertheless, regions exist in the landscape where high-MA and lower-SE shapes are not represented by existing species; their vacancy is observed even at higher taxonomic levels. Results highlight the interaction of biomechanical and non-biomechanical factors in constraining general skull dimensions to localized functional optima through evolution.PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(5):e65305. · 3.53 Impact Factor