In DepthPaleontology

Hungry teen dinosaurs crowded out competitors

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Science  26 Feb 2021:
Vol. 371, Issue 6532, pp. 871-872
DOI: 10.1126/science.371.6532.871

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Summary

Most groups of animals have many small species, somewhat fewer medium-size species, and even fewer large species. In contrast, the extinct dinosaurs—especially carnivores—had plenty of species no bigger than modern-day chickens and also many giant species, but few medium-size ones. Paleontologists have wondered whether juvenile dinosaurs crowded out medium-size adults by exploiting the habitats and food sources those species might have taken. To test this idea, researchers, combed a global collection of fossil data to determine the size distribution of more than 550 dinosaur species in 43 ancient ecosystems across 136 million years and seven continents. They then modeled the role that juvenile carnivores like Tyrannosaurus rex might have played in ecosystems, finding that the teenagers may have crowded out competing species.

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