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Dinosaur bones eaten by insects, earliest evidence from Asia and Africa

Ben Creisler

A new paper:

Lida Xing, Alexander H. Parkinson, Hao Ran, Cecilia A. Pirrone, Eric
M. Roberts, Jianping Zhang, Michael E. Burns, Tao Wang & Jonah
Choiniere (2015)
The earliest fossil evidence of bone boring by terrestrial
invertebrates, examples from China and South Africa.
Historical Biology (advance online publication)

We report the oldest fossil evidence of osteophagia by terrestrial
invertebrates on both the Asian and African continents. Bones
attributable to the Middle Jurassic dinosaur Chuanjiesaurus
(Dinosauria: Sauropoda) were found with post-mortem insect
modification in the Chuanjie Formation, Yunnan Province, China. The
morphology of the borings closely matches the ichnogenus Cubiculum.
Based on the lack of bioglyphs observed in Cubiculum ornatus, a new
ichnospecies is proposed here. The new trace fossil, Cubiculum
inornatus isp. nov., is interpreted to have been constructed for
pupation by an unknown taxon of insect. Additionally, we report even
older borings from Early Jurassic dinosaur bones of the Elliott
Formation in the Karoo Basin, which represent the second oldest
occurrence of insect traces in bone from continental settings. Both
trace fossils sites have palaeogeographic implications for the origins
and dispersal of osteophagia amongst terrestrial invertebrates during
the Mesozoic. These discoveries push back the antiquity of pupation in
animal bones by more than 100 million years to the Middle Jurassic,
indicating that this behaviour, and osteophagy more generally,
originated early in the Mesozoic, roughly comparable with the
origination of insect pupation in woody substrates (Late Triassic).