Allosaurus and T-Rex have a lot in common. They’re both carnivores, both theropods, and I would not know whether to cheer or weep in terror if I saw either one in the flesh. But researchers at Ohio University’s Witmer Lab have discovered one important difference in the way the two creatures fed. While the much larger T-Rex ate like a crocodile — shaking prey in its massive jaws to rip away chunks of flesh — the smaller allosaurus likely ate more like a falcon, tearing off smaller strips of flesh from its unlucky victims. It’s pretty much as close as you can get to ‘dainty’ when discussing the eating habits of a 30-foot-long, two-and-a-half ton murder lizard.
Paleontologist Eric Snively and his team looked beyond the surface similarities of the two dinosaurs to find the differences in the way they are engineered. Statring with a cast of the ancient reptile’s head and neck, the team created a digital model of the skull, neck and muscles that connected the two that they could manipulate and test, getting a better look at what sort of movements allosaurus would have been capable of.
It turns out a strange placement of a neck muscle made it unlikely that allosaurus could shake it’s head vigorously back and forth to rend prey. Instead, it was much better equipped to drive its head down, then pull it back up with a great deal of power. The allosaurus, say researchers, would have been able to move it’s head more flexibly — and more quickly — than T-Rex, but that flexibility came at a cost of sheer power, suggesting that the hunting styles of the two carnivores could also have differed more widely than once thought.
(via Witmer Lab)
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