Fion Waisum Ma, PhD researcher at the University of Birmingham, who led the research study, stated: “Although theropod dinosaurs are always depicted as fearsome predators in popular culture, they are in reality really diverse in terms of diet plans. It is intriguing to observe the jaws ending up being structurally stronger over time, in both predators and herbivores. Such dietary specific niche partitioning might have contributed to the diversity of theropod dinosaurs, which ultimately led to the evolution of modern-day birds.” Theropod dinosaurs underwent severe dietary modifications throughout their evolutionary history of 165 million years.
Theropod dinosaurs evolved more robust jaws through time enabling them to take in harder food, a brand-new study exposes.
Scientists used digital modeling and computer system simulation to uncover a typical trend of jaw fortifying in theropods– expanding the rear jaw portion in all groups, as well as progressing an upturned jaw in predators and a downturned jaw in herbivores.
Publishing their findings today (December 16, 2021) in the journal Current Biology, scientists revealed that biomechanical analysis revealed these type modifications made jaws mechanically more steady when biting– reducing the opportunity of bone fracture.
The global team, led by researchers at the University of Birmingham, developed digital models of more than 40 lower jaws from five various theropod dinosaur groups, consisting of typical predators like Tyrannosaurus and Velociraptor, and lesser-known herbivores like ornithomimosaurs, therizinosaurs, and oviraptorosaurs.
Fion Waisum Ma, PhD scientist at the University of Birmingham, who led the research study, said: “Although theropod dinosaurs are always portrayed as fearsome predators in pop culture, they are in truth very varied in terms of diet plans. It is interesting to observe the jaws ending up being structurally stronger over time, in both herbivores and carnivores. This provides the capability to exploit a larger variety of food products.
Life reconstruction of the Late Cretaceous Iren Dabasu Formation fauna, showing theropod dinosaurs of numerous diets. Such dietary niche partitioning could have added to the diversity of theropod dinosaurs, which eventually led to the development of modern birds. Portrayed species: Gigantoraptor, Garudimimus, Neimongosaurus and Velociraptor. Credit: Gabriel Ugueto
” Theropod dinosaurs went through extreme dietary changes throughout their evolutionary history of 165 million years. They started as carnivores, in the future progressed into more specific predators, omnivores and herbivores. Studying how their feeding mechanics changed is key to understanding the dietary shifts in other vertebrate animals too.”
For instance, in carnivores like tyrannosauroids, an early form like Guanlong had a relatively slim and straight jaw. However later kinds such as Tarbosaurus and Tyrannosaurus developed much deeper jaws with the front portion bending upward, which increase jaw strength.
Having a strengthened jaw is specifically essential to herbivorous theropods, as their jaws experience considerable stress from recurring plant cropping. Herbivores like Erlikosaurus and Caudipteryx have very downward-bending jaws that could assist dissipate such stress.
Dr. Stephan Lautenschlager, Senior Lecturer at the University of Birmingham and senior author of the research study, stated: “It is fascinating to see how theropod dinosaurs had actually evolved different strategies to increase jaw stability depending on their diet plan. This was accomplished through bone renovation– a mechanism where bone is transferred in regions of the jaw that experience high stresses throughout feeding.”
The researchers studied the feeding mechanics of tyrannosaurids through development and observed that the deeper and more upturned jaws of adult theropods, such as Tyrannosaurus and Tarbosaurus, are structurally stronger compared to those of their juvenile kinds.
Dr. Lautenschlager further described: “The resemblance in between jaw enhancing through development and through time recommends that developmental patterns in juvenile dinosaurs eventually affected the advancement of the whole group. This most likely facilitated the jaw evolution of theropod dinosaurs and their total success for over 150 million years.”
Recommendation: “Macroevolutionary patterns in theropod dinosaur feeding mechanics” by Waisum Ma, Michael Pittman, Richard J. Butler and Stephan Lautenschlager, 16 December 2021, Current Biology.DOI: 10.1016/ j.cub.2021.11.060.