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Two infant dinosaurs were found in the fossil of a tyrannosaur that is 75 million years old, providing insight into the dietary habits of these ancient predators.
A research published in Science Advances revealed that the hind legs of two citipes, small dinosaur species resembling birds, were discovered beneath the rib cage of a young gorgosaurus – a relative of the Tyrannosaurus rex.
The study’s authors propose that the juvenile gorgosaurus primarily hunted small, young dinosaurs. Previous fossil findings indicate that adult gorgosaurus mainly targeted and consumed large herbivorous dinosaurs that lived in groups.
According to Dr. Darla Zelenitsky, a prominent scientist involved in the research, the findings provide compelling proof that tyrannosaurs underwent significant dietary shifts during their growth.
According to her, it has been discovered that these adolescent (tyrannosaurs) preyed on smaller, juvenile dinosaurs.
It is unlikely that these young and small tyrannosaurs would have been able to join a group of larger horned dinosaurs, which could weigh thousands of kilograms.
The fossil was first found in the Alberta Badlands of Canada in 2009, but was encased in rock and required several years of preparation before it could be studied.
The initial finding was made by employees at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Alberta, who noticed tiny toe bones sticking out from the rib cage.
The BBC was told by Dr. Francois Therrien, who was the co-lead scientist in the study, that the rock was removed from the ribcage to reveal its contents.
“Surprisingly, the hind legs of two infant dinosaurs, both less than a year old, were found.”