Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Ichthyosaur healed "battle scars"

For those of us interested in documenting evidence of natural evil from the fossil record, Science Daily has a report today on "battle scars" in an Ichthyosaur fossil. (You might recall that ichthyosaurs are those dolphin-like lizards shown above in a photo I obtained from Wikipedia.) According to the report:
The surprising discovery of well preserved bite marks on the bones of the ichthyosaur's lower jaw were made during painstaking cleaning and reassembly of its skeleton in the laboratory. Evidence of advanced healing indicates that the animal survived the attack and lived on for some time afterwards.
... The size and spacing of the tooth marks do match any potential predators or prey. Rather, they are most consistent with another adult ichthyosaur, suggesting that the wounds were inflicted during combat over food, mates or territory.
Science Daily's link to the journal article is presently not working, but you can find the whole paper right here:

Zammit and Kear. 2011. Healed bite marks on a Cretaceous ichthyosaur. Acta Paleontologica Polonica doi:10.4202/app.2010.0117

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