Dinosaur dung reveals plant-eating giants feasted on crabs

24 September 2017, 10:28 PM
Dinosaur dung reveals plant-eating dinosaurs feasted on crabs
Dinosaur dung reveals plant-eating dinosaurs feasted on crabs

In a peculiar study, scientists have discovered that herbivore dinosaurs sometimes also feasted on prehistoric crayfish or crabs for nutritional boost.

The study that was published in Scientific Reports analysed a 75-million-year old fossilised dung in Utah from the Cretaceous Period consumed crustaceans in order to get extra protein and calcium into their bodies before laying eggs.

"From what we know about dinosaurs, this was a totally unexpected behaviour. It was such a surprising discovery we wondered what the motivation could have been", said Karen Chin, study author and palaeontologist at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Researchers examined the fossilized faeces, called coprolites,  and they found some puzzling fragments of thin, convex structures that resembled the outer covering of a crustacean’s leg or claw.

Read more: Octlantis: Scientists discover an underwater ‘octopus city’

The samples studied are thought to produced by duck-billed dinos known as hadrosaurs — common herbivores of the Cretaceous period.

"While it is difficult to prove intent regarding feeding strategies, I suspect these dinosaurs targeted rotting wood because it was a great source of protein in the form of insects, crustaceans and other invertebrates", said Chin.

First Published: Sunday, September 24, 2017 10:08 PM
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