Scientists Have Revealed Dinosaurs Last Meal

World | June 4, 2020, Thursday // 20:48| Views: | Comments: 0
Bulgaria: Scientists Have Revealed Dinosaurs Last Meal

Researchers have revealed what a 2,800-pound armor-plated dinosaur ate for its last meal before it perished around 110 million years ago.

In 2011, miners accidentally uncovered the fossilized remains of a dinosaur specimen representing the species Borealopelta markmitchelli—a type of nodosaur—at a site near Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada.

Following the discovery, a team of Canadian scientists began investigating the extremely well-preserved specimen, whose fossilized stomach contents have survived to this day as a soccer-ball-sized mass.

"The finding of the actual preserved stomach contents from a dinosaur is extraordinarily rare, and this stomach recovered from the mummified nodosaur by the museum team is by far the best-preserved dinosaur stomach ever found to date," Jim Basinger, one of the scientists from USask, said in a statement.

When people see this stunning fossil and are told that we know what its last meal was because its stomach was so well preserved inside the skeleton, it will almost bring the beast back to life for them, providing a glimpse of how the animal actually carried out its daily activities, where it lived, and what its preferred food was."

In a study published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, the researchers reveal that the dinosaur's last meals were composed almost entirely of ferns, providing the most detailed insight yet of the diet of large herbivores living more than 110 million years ago.

"The last meal of our dinosaur was mostly fern leaves—88 per cent chewed leaf material and seven per cent stems and twigs," David Greenwood, another author of the study from Brandon University, said in a statement.

Analysis of the stomach contents suggested that the dinosaur was a picky eater, mostly choosing to eat certain types of ferns—known as leptosporangiates—over others that would have also been common in the animal's environment at the time, according to the study.

"This new study changes what we know about the diet of large herbivorous dinosaurs," Royal Tyrrell Museum palaeontologist Caleb Brown said in the statement. "Our findings are also remarkable for what they can tell us about the animal's interaction with its environment, details we don't usually get just from the dinosaur skeleton."

In addition to the plant material, the authors also detected an abundance of charcoal in the stomach contents of the dinosaur, suggesting that the animal lived in an environment that was prone to regular wildfires.

"This adaptation to a fire ecology is new information. Like large herbivores alive today such as moose and deer, and elephants in Africa, these nodosaurs by their feeding would have shaped the vegetation on the landscape, possibly maintaining more open areas by their grazing."

The analysis of the stomach contents has even shed new light on the animal's death, indicating that it must have occurred shortly after the last meal.

According to research featured in the CBC documentary Dinosaur Cold Case, the dinosaur may have drowned in a flood and its body was washed out into the vast inland sea that once cut right through the North American continent, covering the area that is now Alberta.

Once the dinosaur had sunk to the seafloor, it became coated in mud, helping to preserve it in exceptional condition for more than a hundred million years until miners accidentally uncovered the remains during work at the Suncor Millennium open pit mine around 17 miles north of Fort McMurray in April, 2011./

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