Signs of a struggle were found on the remains of ancient sea monsters


05/05/2011

Deep marks on the jaw marine reptiles age of 120 million years scientists suggest that life in the ancient polar oceans was quite easy. Healed bite wounds were made, apparently, by a representative of the same kind. Such damage is shedding light on the social behavior of extinct sea creatures that lived in the time of the dinosaurs. Finding will be described in detail in the next issue of the journal "Acta Palaeontologica Polonica".

Discovered in the remote desert near the town of Murray in the northern part of South Australia, the fossil skeleton belonged ichthyosaurs, dolphin-like marine reptile that lived in the age of the dinosaurs. Ichthyosaurs were quickly flying predators that eat mostly fish and squid. Adult animals reach about six feet long and had a head oblong shape with teeth (more than 100), similar to crocodiles.

At a time when we lived ichthyosaurs, the continent of Australia was still connected to Antarctica and the continent was located much further south than today, when it is located close to the southern polar circle. That now is the arid grasslands, it was then down a broad inland sea water freezing temperatures and even a huge iceberg season.

The surprising discovery of fossil ichthyosaur with a well-preserved bite marks on the bones of his lower jaw was made for a thorough cleaning and bulkheads of its skeleton in the science lab. Confirmation of the rapid healing indicates that the animal survived the attack and continued to live for several more years.

"Pathological traces on ancient fossilized bones and teeth give unique insight into the life and social behavior of extinct animals," - said Benjamin Cyrus (Benjamin Kear), one of the authors of the analysis, which participated in the Program of Paleobiology at the University of Uppsala. "First of ichthyosaurs such findings have been reported infrequently."

The size and spacing of traces made by the teeth match any potential predators or prey. Rather, they belong to another adult ichthyosaur, suggesting that the wounds were inflicted during a fight over food, territory or female. The bite on the face is a common form of social interaction observed in animals today and is often directed to the opponent with underdeveloped jaws.

Original: Physorg Translation: M. Potter


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