Chase D. Brownstein â (2018)Â
Theropod hindlimbs with feeding and other traces reveal ecosystem dynamics in the Maastrichtian of eastern North America.Â
PeerJ Preprints 6:e26565v1Â
Direct documentation of the ecology of past life is often rare when the fossil record is comparatively poor, as in the case of the terrestrial fauna of the Maastrichtian of eastern North America. Here, I describe a femur and partial tibia shaft assignable to theropods from the Maastrichtian Big Brook locality of New Jersey. The former, identifiable to a previously undetected morphotype of large ornithomimosaur, bears several scrapes identifiable as the feeding traces of sharks, adding to the collection of terrestrial vertebrate remains bearing such marks from the state. The latter is littered with tooth marks and punctures from possibly multiple crocodyliform individuals, the first documented occurrence of such traces on dinosaur bone from the Maastrichtian of the Atlantic Coastal Plain. Additionally, its surface is dotted with likely traces of invertebrates, revealing a microcosm of biological interaction from the Maastrichtian New Jersey shoreline. Previously, the massive Campanian crocodylian taxon Deinosuchus rugosus and the slightly smaller Cenomanian-age Texas crocodyliform Deltasuchus motherali have been shown as important drivers of terrestrial vertebrate taphonomy in eastern North America. The report of crocodyliform bite marks on the ornithomimosaur metatarsal shaft in this manuscript reveals that crocodylians continued to play role in the taphonomy of large dinosaurs in eastern North America through the end of the Mesozoic. The preserved invertebrate traces add to the sparse record of their traces on dinosaur bone, and the presence of shark scrapes on the femur supports the "bloat-and-float" model of terrestrial vertebrate fossil deposition in eastern North America.