Devon fossils show reptile may have starved to death, researchers say

2023-06-10 09:01:45  • 3 mins

A sheep-sized dinosaur that ate tough plants and trees could have lost its teeth because of its diet, new research suggests.

University of Bristol researchers studied specimens found in Devon to determine that the rhynchosaurs may have starved to death in old age.

The reptile, a herbivore, roamed the earth between 225 and 250 million years ago during the Triassic Period.

It was a period of generally warm climates and tough plants.

The researchers used scans to see how the teeth wore down as they fed and how new teeth were added as the animals grew in size.

Prof Mike Benton, team leader on the study, said he was "amazed" to find that in many cases the animals "dominated their ecosystems".

"They were the sheep or antelopes of their day, and yet they had specialised dental systems that were apparently adapted for dealing with masses of tough plant food," he said.


Dr Rob Coram, who discovered the Devon fossils, said the research showed the animals may have struggled to get enough nutrition after their teeth were eventually worn down.

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