T-rex Tooth Scars on an Edmontosaurus Vertebrae

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Picture number 1 shows the vertebrae sitting on it's side with the butt end
of the tooth embedded 1/2 way into the vert. The opening for the spinal cord
to pass thru is at the right. I have the tooth laying in the groove the way it best
fits, and it is a perfect fit. The sheer power that it takes to drive a wedge into
a piece of living bone like this is absolutely stunning.


Picture number 2 shows the tooth and the vert. The spinal chord canal
is at the top, and the tooth scar is at the left.


Picture number 3 shows how the tooth lies in bite mark. The blank space in
the vert just below and to the left of the tooth tip, very neatly holds the tip
of another tooth. It appears that it was bitten hard enough for the teeth in the
upper and lower jaws to actually come together. The 2 indentations on the
top of the vert are also tooth marks made by a lighter bite. On the opposite
side of the vert (not pictured) there are 2 more very similar indentations,
but at 90 degrees to the ones shown. So this would seem to show a total
of at least 3 bites on this one vertebrae.


Picture number 4 again shows the tooth cradled in the Edmontosaurus vert.


The T-rex tooth and Edmontosaurus vertebrae were both found in the
Hell Creek Formation of eastern Montana. The 2 fossils are Latest Cretaceous
in age, about 65,000,000 years B.P. They were not found together, but I have
no doubt that a similar tooth caused the deep scaring seen in the vertebrae.
I have found quite a few Triceratops and Edmontosaurus fossils that show
damage caused by the bite of large predators - they are more common than
one might suspect. This one stands out as a really dramatic example. It
appears that the vertebrae was bitten several times from different directions.
I hesitate to use the word chewed, because dinosaurs couldn't "chew" their food
as we mammals do, but it does seem like an accurate description. This vertebrae
is the first or second dorsal vert, so it came from a region at the base of the
Edmontosaurus neck. It really isn't clear from the fossil whether this was an attack
or a matter of scavenging. But if T-rex was purely a scavenger, as some have
claimed , why would it need to use the kind of terrific force needed to create a
wound like this, in bone? And if it was capable of a bite like this, wouldn't it
stand to reason that it would be able to kill something to eat as well?

Alan Olson

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