TO get a better idea of what the earliest dinosaurs actually ate, paleobiologists from the University of Bristol in England examined the teeth of members of several different genera with the help of a CT scanner for the purposes of their study. Already after the first recordings it became clear that there was a great diversity in types.
Study author Antnoio Mayoral explains that the diversity is evidence that these extinct animals developed different eating habits and specialized in a wide range of foods. So he and his colleagues decided to go a step further and compare the shape and functionality of their teeth with those of living reptiles, such as lizards, snakes and crocodiles.
Their results suggest that the earliest dinosaurs thought to be herbivores were actually omnivores and that the ancestors of the long-necked herbivores ate meat. This ability to have a diverse diet early in their evolution actually offers an explanation for their success.
“Our research confirms that two of the three main lineages of herbivores weren’t really that in the beginning. Sauropodomorphs, early relatives of diplodocus and other long-necked giants, transitioned from carnivores to herbivores during the Triassic. And the earliest ornithischians, from which dinosaurs like triceratops evolved much later, were originally omnivores,” said Mayoral, writes Nationalgeographic.
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