Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Using discards, scientists discover different dinosaurs' stomping grounds

Date:
October 15, 2010
Source:
Yale University
Summary:
By examining the type of rock in which dinosaur fossils were embedded, an often unappreciated part of the remains, scientists have determined that different species of North American dinosaurs from the Late Cretaceous period 65 million years ago occupied different environments separated by just a few miles.

Certain dinosaur species liked to live in different habitats, separated by only a few miles.
Credit: Illustration by Nicholas Longrich/Yale University

By examining the type of rock in which dinosaur fossils were embedded, an often unappreciated part of the remains, scientists have determined that different species of North American dinosaurs from the Late Cretaceous period 65 million years ago occupied different environments separated by just a few miles.

Hadrosaurs or duck-billed dinosaurs, along with the small ornithopod Thescelosaurus, preferred to live along the edge of rivers, according to the research. Ceratopsians, on the other hand, which include the well-known Triceratops, preferred to be several miles inland.

The findings, which appear in the online edition of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, give scientists a more complete picture of the distribution of different species and help explain how several large herbivores managed to coexist.

Tyler Lyson of Yale University and the Marmarth Research Foundation, along with Yale researcher Nicholas Longrich, analyzed more than 300 fossils representing more than half a dozen dinosaur species from Western Canada, Montana, Wyoming and surrounding areas.

After several years of fieldwork, Lyson began to notice a pattern to the geographical distribution of different species. He and Longrich also searched through museum collections of fossils, some of which contained information about the type of rock in which the fossils were found, and some of which still had pieces of rock attached to them that were large enough for the researchers to recognize as either sandstone or mudstone.

"We're using what paleontologists usually throw away when excavating the fossils as clues to where these different species spent most of their time," Lyson said.

As the sole large carnivore in the region, Tyrannosaurs rex appears to have roamed both habitats, most likely feeding on large herbivores. However, the team discovered that hadrosaurs and Thescelosaurus fossils were more often found in sandstone, which occurs along riverbanks, whereas ceratopsians were likely to be embedded in mudstone from the floodplains.

"We didn't really think about distribution between different species before now," Longrich said. "But depending on what type of rock you look at, you get a very different picture of the community that lived there."

The study also shows that the dinosaurs had specialized eating habits (something about which very little is known), and likely fed on different types of plants found in each environment, Longrich said.

"This opens up the possibility of finding new species if we search different types of rock," Longrich said. "It also emphasizes the importance of recording data about the rock in which fossils are preserved, which can give us important clues as to the paleoecology of these animals."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Yale University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. T. R. Lyson, N. R. Longrich. Spatial niche partitioning in dinosaurs from the latest cretaceous (Maastrichtian) of North America. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2010; DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2010.1444

Cite This Page:

Yale University. "Using discards, scientists discover different dinosaurs' stomping grounds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 October 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101014160941.htm>.
Yale University. (2010, October 15). Using discards, scientists discover different dinosaurs' stomping grounds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101014160941.htm
Yale University. "Using discards, scientists discover different dinosaurs' stomping grounds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101014160941.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Fossils & Ruins News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Rare Whale Fossil Pulled from Calif. Backyard

Rare Whale Fossil Pulled from Calif. Backyard

AP (Aug. 1, 2014) A rare whale fossil has been pulled from a Southern California backyard. The 16- to 17-million-year-old baleen whale fossil is one of about 20 baleen whale fossils known to exist. (Aug. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Where Did The World Trade Center Shipwreck Come From?

Where Did The World Trade Center Shipwreck Come From?

Newsy (July 31, 2014) Scientists say a ship remnant discovered underneath Ground Zero dates back to the 18th century. Why it sank is still uncertain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre

Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre

AP (July 29, 2014) Food scraps and other items left on the grounds by picnickers brings unwelcome visitors to the grounds of the world famous and popular Louvre Museum in Paris. (July 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
London's Famed 'Gherkin' Goes on Sale for 650 Mln

London's Famed 'Gherkin' Goes on Sale for 650 Mln

AFP (July 29, 2014) London's "Gherkin" office tower, one of the landmarks on the British capital's skyline, went on sale for about 650 million ($1.1 billion, 820 million euros) on Tuesday after being placed into receivership. Duration: 00:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins