Monday, May 09, 2011

Cranial Osteology of a Juvenile Tarbosaurus

Cranial osteology of a juvenile specimen of Tarbosaurus bataar from the Nemegt Formation (Upper Cretaceous) of Bugin Tsav, Mongolia. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 31(3). 2011. Tsuihiji, T., M. Watabe, K. Tsogtbaatar, T. Tsubamoto, R. Barsbold, S. Suzuki, A. H. Lee, R. C. Ridgely, Y. Kawahara, and L. M. Witmer.

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Courtesy of the Hayashibara Museum of Natural Sciences.
While adult tyrannosaurs wielded power and size to kill large prey, youngsters used agility to hunt smaller game.
An international team of scientists have analyzed the youngest and most-complete known skull for any species of tyrannosaur, offering a new view of the growth and feeding strategies of these fearsome predators.

"It's one of the secrets of success for tyrannosaurs—the different age groups weren't competing with each other for food because their diets shifted as they grew," said Ohio University paleontologist Lawrence Witmer.

The Tarbosaurus skull was found as part of an almost complete skeleton, missing only the neck and a portion of the tail. Estimated to have been only 2 to 3 years old when it died, was about 9 feet in total length, about 3 feet high at the hip and weighed about 70 pounds.

"The juvenile skull shows that there must have a change in dietary niches as the animals got older," Tsuihiji said. "The younger animals would have taken smaller prey that they could subdue without risking damage to their skulls, whereas the older animals and adults had progressively stronger skulls that would have allowed taking larger, more dangerous prey." link

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