Fossilised stomach contents show armoured dinosaur’s leafy last meal
WASHINGTON: In a forest rebounding after a wildfire 110 million years in the past, an armoured dinosaur devoured a meal of tender ferns in western Canada earlier than struggling a sudden dying – maybe drowning in a river or a flash flood – and being washed out to sea.
That unlucky Cretaceous Period beast is now offering distinctive perception into the dietary habits of plant-eating dinosaurs. Scientists mentioned on Wednesday the fossilised abdomen contents of the dinosaur, referred to as Borealopelta markmitchelli, have been preserved in beautiful element with its skeleton, revealing what was on the menu for its final meal.
The fossil, from the province of Alberta, represents the best-preserved abdomen contents of any plant-eating dinosaur, revealing even the mobile construction of the leaves and intact spores.
“Direct proof of eating regimen in herbivorous dinosaurs may be very uncommon,” mentioned paleontologist Caleb Brown of the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Alberta, lead writer of the analysis revealed within the journal Royal Society Open Science. “Almost the whole lot we predict we all know concerning the eating regimen of those animals relies on oblique knowledge akin to tooth put on, jaw biomechanics, the accessible crops and the dietary content material and digestibility of these crops.”
Borealopelta, 18 ft lengthy (5.5 metres) and 1-1/2 tons, was a member of a gaggle referred to as nodosaurs. It had a large physique, small head and walked on 4 quick legs. As safety from massive meat-eating dinosaurs, its physique was studded with osteoderms – bones embedded within the pores and skin – and it boasted a big spike on every shoulder.
Its abdomen contents have been comprised principally of leaves of a selected kind of fern, with only a few leaves of conifers and cycads – a sort of evergreen. A large quantity of charcoal was discovered within the abdomen, indicating it was shopping in a lately burned space.
Also discovered have been dozens of gastroliths, or gizzard stones, swallowed by sure animals together with some fashionable birds and crocodilians to assist digestion.