Tag Archives: bite marks

Cretaceous Cold Cases #3: Duck(bill) Amuck

Read Bucky’s new blogpost

Cretaceous Cold Cases #3: Duck(bill) Amuck

@ THE ABSTRACT

Taken from the blogpost:

This is the third post in a series called “Cretaceous Cold Cases” in which the science of taphonomy, or prehistoric forensics, is explained by fascinating cases from the files of Terry “Bucky” Gates, a research scientist with a joint appointment at NC State and theNorth Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

 

Cretaceous Cold Case #2, Part 1: It’s a Trap?

Cretaceous Cold Case #2, Part 1: It’s a Trap?

READ IT HERE: Cretaceous Cold Case #2, Part 1: It’s a Trap?

taken from the blog:

This is part one of the second post in a series called “Cretaceous Cold Cases” in which the science of taphonomy, or prehistoric forensics, is explained  using fascinating cases from the files of Terry “Bucky” Gates, a research scientist with a joint appointment at NC State and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Part 2 can be found here.

Chomp or be Chomped, Part II

Research & Collections

Lisa Schultz is bursting at the seams with excitement when we walk into Siemens Training and Development Center in Cary with our box of fossils.  Since early morning, she’s been in this room testing the CT-scanner’s capabilities with a material that is quite a bit different than your average human body—a rock.  Lisa’s “patient” is not just any rock, but a rather pretty hand-sized specimen with veins of crystalline quartz that her daughter found outside a couple of days before our visit.  “Try this out mom,” she told her as she handed it over.

I met Lisa and the other incredible folks at Seimens this past March, when I came to “Take Your Kids to Work Day” to talk about new research on dinosaur fossils (my day job).  After my presentation, Lisa pulled me aside and told me about a new dual energy scanner that the Center had, with a…

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Chomp or Be Chomped, Part I

Research & Collections

With one of the most powerful bites on the planet, crocodiles reign as the king of chomp.

Scientists from Florida State University have measured the force of a crocodile bite at nearly 3,700 pounds.  That’s a little less than the weight of a Dodge Charger balanced on a number 2 pencil.

But if there’s one natural law even a croc can’t break, it’s eat or be eaten….

Two months ago I got the itch to go exploring (a chronic disease-process for paleontologists).  Lucky for me, my colleague and long time curator of paleontology Vince Schneider had a fix.  He was planning a day trip to hunt for the remains of ancient animals that lived and died in the lakes of North Carolina during the Triassic Period, some of which looked a heck of a lot like modern crocodiles.

After assembling a team of paleontologists and volunteers, we hit the…

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A Killer Bite

When I cracked open the fresh binding on my senior yearbook an eon ago, I came face to face with the infamous superlatives list, bestowed (wittingly or unwittingly) upon various graduating members of our senior class.  Nicest Eyes, Best Dressed, Most Likely to Open a Gas Station… the list was thoughtfully crafted.

After a few days in Africa observing living animals and taking data off the dead, it occurred to me that if there is one animal in Africa that deserves the award for Best Bite, it’s unequivocally the hyena.

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A killer smile? (c) Arno & Louise Wildlife.

The hyena gest this honor, not because it has the strongest bite—that record goes to another African native, the crocodile—but because it is an equal opportunity lender of mandibular destruction.  Or to put it another way, a hyena doesn’t particularly care what it lends its jaws to.  A hyena is no gourmand.

Time and time again, we found evidence of hyena feeding.  It got to the point that when we approached a carcass the first thing that would run through our mind was: lets see what the hyenas left us this time… But the truth is, it was awe inspiring to see the damage hyenas are capable of inflicting with their teeth.

On every skeleton we found places where hyenas had gnawed off thin parts of bones entirely, such as the shoulder blade or hipbones.

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Hyenas love to chomp on thin bones. Check out the tooth marks on this elephant shoulder blade.

They also appeared to be fond of chewing off the faces of elephant skulls.

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The face on this elephant skull has been chewed off by hyenas.

We even found scat (droppings if you prefer) containing small bones that were swallowed whole by hyenas.

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Hyena scat contains whole bones and turtle shell.  Who needs to chew?

By far the wickedest evidence of hyena feeding was a turtle skeleton we stumbled across in the Kazakini area.  The hyena had taken a young female leopard tortoise up in its jaws and bitten half of it clean off, right through the shell, no finesse required.

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This female leopard tortoise had a bad day.

After all that, I thought I had a handle on the wreckage inflicted by the hyenas.  Boy was I wrong.  Laying in our tent one night I was startled awake by series of hideous sounds—the deep, desperate howls of a large antelope in its death throws overprinted by the frantic, murderous yips and cries of a whole pack of hyenas echoing like a twisted symphony across the grassland.  Then suddenly like the fall of a black curtain, there was only dead silence.  It was enough to make your blood run cold.

Next day we followed the footprints of the successful pack as they walked 50 feet from our campsite.  For a moment the thought of following them to the kill site swept through my mind, but it was quickly followed by the memory of lunatic laughter.

I quickly came to realize I preferred studying the more distant aftermath of the hyena.  Perhaps some things are best left to the cover of night.