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Despite the general similarity, each species of dinosaurs went through the process of evolution in different ways, so they adapted to a plant-based diet in their own way.
Scientists have discovered ‘surprising differences’ in how herbivorous dinosaurs ate plant foods. This reveals more information about how the diet of prehistoric reptiles evolved, according to the Independent.
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Researchers at the University of Bristol in the UK have used CT scans of dinosaur skulls to track the evolution of early herbivorous dinosaurs by reconstructing the jaw muscles and measuring the bite force of the animals.
While preliminary studies have shown how different dinosaurs consumed their food, relatively little is known about how they developed their ways of eating.
In a new study, scientists analyzed five dinosaur skulls from the Ornithischia group of herbivorous dinosaurs, including Heterodontosaurus, Lesothosaurus, Scelidosaurus, Hypsilophodon, and Psittacosaurus—the earliest representatives of what would become the major herbivorous dinosaur groups.
Although most of the early dinosaurs were vegetarians , the researchers found that these five “vegetarian” animals evolved in very different ways and had a range of adaptations to feed on plants.
“When we compared the functional characteristics of the skull and teeth of these herbivorous dinosaurs, we found significant differences in the relative size of the jaw muscles, bite force and jaw strength between them,” study lead author David Button said in a statement.
” This showed that these dinosaurs, while looking somewhat similar, evolved in very different ways to cope with a plant-based diet,” explained Dr. Button.
For example, Heterodontosaurus likely had large jaw muscles relative to the size of its skull, capable of producing greater bite force, which may have helped it consume tough vegetation.
Scalidosaurus, according to scientists, had a similar bite force, but relatively smaller jaw muscles compared to its skull.
In contrast, the gypsylophone’s skull did not have large muscles, but instead the dinosaur reoriented its muscles to bite more efficiently with less muscular effort.
“We found that each dinosaur solved the problems associated with a plant-based diet using very different feeding methods,” said study co-author Stefan Lautenschlager of the University of Birmingham in the UK.
“Some compensated for low nutritional efficiency due to their size while others have developed large jaw muscles, increased the efficiency of the jaw system, or combined these approaches.Although these animals looked very similar, their individual solutions to the same problems illustrate the unpredictability of evolution, “explained Dr. Lautenschlager.
To better understand the morphology of the skulls, the researchers reconstructed the jaw muscle using data from birds and crocodiles, which helped indicate where the muscles should have been.
The results showed that although all five dinosaurs were herbivorous, each of them fed on different ways.
“If we want to understand how dinosaurs diversified so effectively into so many different species, it’s important to understand how they evolved to feed on such a wide variety of vegetation in so many ways. This diversity in feeding mechanisms allowed dominate land for millions of years,” said study senior author Paul Barrett.
“This study helps us understand how animals evolve to occupy new ecological niches. It shows that even similar animals, those on a similar diet don’t always develop the same characteristics, highlighting how innovative and unpredictable evolution can be,” he added. octor button.