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Feeding traces from new Cretaceous crocodyliform

From: Ben Creisler

A new paper in Palaios:

Christopher R. Noto, Derek J. Main, and Stephanie K. Drumheller (2012)
Feeding traces and paleobiology of a Cretaceous (Cenomanian) Crocodyliform:
Example from the Woodbine Formation of Texas.
PALAIOS 27 (advance online publication)
DOI: 10.2110/palo.2011.p11-052r

Direct evidence of behavior in extinct tetrapods is rare. However,
these traces can inform
a variety of research questions touching on paleoecology, taphonomy,
and functional
morphology. Here we present fossil specimens from the Upper Cretaceous
Woodbine Formation that exhibit tooth marks consistent with predation
by a new taxon
of large crocodyliform currently under study. Collected from the
recently discovered
Arlington Archosaur Site, the marked bones were largely found in a
single peat horizon
and in close association with the new crocodyliform. The feeding
traces themselves
consist of pits, scores, and punctures that occur on multiple turtle
shell fragments and two
dinosaur limb bones. The pattern of marks and the breakage on turtle
carapaces and
plastra suggest that they were crushed, whereas the marks on dinosaur
bones indicate
possible dismemberment. These interpretations and the association with
a crocodyliform
trace maker are based on observations of feeding behaviors and accompanying,
diagnostic bite mark patterns made by extant crocodylians. The
morphology of the new
crocodyliform taxon and the distribution of bite marks indicates it
was likely a generalist:
an opportunistic predator that fed on a variety of prey, including
turtles and dinosaurs.
Given this evidence and the paleoenvironmental setting, the ecology of
the large
crocodyliform from the Woodbine Formation was likely most similar to
that of fossil and
living crocodylians inhabiting delta-plain environments. Not only were these
crocodyliforms likely significant predators in the Woodbine
paleoecosystem, they also
played an important taphonomic role in the assembly of vertebrate
remains from the
surrounding community.