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Could a carnivore make a meal of a plant-eater?

A big hunter, such as Allosaurus, would have had several advantages over lumbering plant-eater Stegosaurus. Not only was Allosaurus faster and more quick-witted, but it was also better equipped for killing. Allosaurus could slash out with its claws before sinking its razor-sharp teeth into its victim's flesh. Stegosaurus might have fought back by swiping out with its tail spikes, but that was unlikely enough to prevent it ending up as food for its killer.

Allosaurus

Allosaurus

Dinosaurs With Strong Legs

Strong leg muscles

Which dinosaur has the biggest brain?

The dinosaur with the biggest brain was probably Giganotosaurus, although this was definitely not the smartest. That honor goes to the troodontid group, which had the biggest brains for their size. These dinosaurs also had large, foward-facing eyes that could focus on prey and may have helped Troodon to see at night.

Troodon

Who hunted the hunters?

It is possible that the big carnivores—Allosaurus, T. rex, and Giganotosaurus—hunted smaller carnivores, such as Santanaraptor, as well as herbivorous dinosaurs. These big carnivores were the largest, fiercest animals around, which made them top predators, safe from hunters themselves. Only a severe wound or debilitating illness could have made a big carnivore potential prey.

Troodon

Deinonychus attacking Tenontosaurus i""3" * ' - --■■ — I i J u

How did hunters kill their prey?

The predatory dinosaurs had to kill to stay alive, and they developed different methods and weapons for efficient hunting. Once they had moved in for the kill, they would have used teeth, claws, and powerful jaws to despatch their victims. Small carnivores generally relied on speed and agility to capture their prey, but when the target was a big dinosaur, such as Tenontosaurus, they may have attacked in packs.

Curved daw hooked the prey

Curved daw hooked the prey

Killer claw was flicked forward into victims flesh

Did Deinonychus have killer claws?

| A This hunter wielded a large, sickle-shaped claw on the second toe of each foot. Experts think that Deinonychus held its prey with its hands and jaws and slashed at its victim with one razor-sharp claw until the unfortunate creature was dead.

Killer claw was flicked forward into victims flesh

Did hunters stalk their prey?

| A The more intelligent predatory dinosaurs may have stalked their prey, waiting to pounce in a moment of weakness. A lone herbivore, such as this Iguanodon, would have been at risk from stalkers such as Neovenator. To attack a dinosaur in a herd, the stalker might have separated a weaker animal from the group before moving in for the kill.

Iguanodon

Iguanodon

Jows were flexible

Large cavity to house massive jaw muscles

Allosaurus skull

More Facts

■ Deinosuchus, a huge alligator, was capable of feasting on large dinosaurs. This massive, river-dwelling reptile's skull alone measured 6 ft (1.8 m).

■ Gigonotosourus may have slammed into its victims to knock them out with its body weight before digging in.

■ Once a big theropod had gorged itself on a kill, smaller predators might move in to strip the bones of flesh.

Dinosaurs' teeth survive well as fossils because they are the hardest part of the body and least subject to decay.

■ Marine carnivore Liopleurodon may have been able to sniff out potential prey by swimming with its mouth open and "smelling" the water that passed into its nostrils.

What was a killer's main weapon?

The large predator's ultimate weapon was its jaws. They were massive and incredibly powerful. Specially designed "windows" in the skull made it lightweight without losing strength. Allosaurus's jaws were flexible, allowing it to open its mouth wide enough to swallow huge mouthfuls of flesh— perhaps even an entire creature.

Curved teeth held prey in place

How were curved fangs used?

| A Predatory dinosaurs such as T. rex had teeth that curved inward. These were designed to give the predator a better grip on its victim. The angle of the teeth prevented an animal from struggling while the daggerlike points pierced its flesh. If a dinosaur lost a tooth in battle or in an accident, a new one grew to replace it.

Tyrannosaurus jaw

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