BEIJING, Oct. 25 (Xinhaunet) -- At the conclusion of
the film "War of the Worlds" the narrator intones it was one of "God's smallest
creatures" that killed the invaders from Mars. The narrator was giving credit to
germs, against which the Martians had no immunity, and now scientists have
discovered massive dinosaurs were often killed by small creatures.
unusually well-preserved fossil of a duck-billed dinosaur dug up in Montana has
revealed what appear to be tiny burrows in its insides that would have been made
by worms, a research team at the University of Colorado at Boulder found.
An artist's conception of Leonardo, a
duck-billed dinosaur known as a brachylophosaur excavated in Montana.
They found more than 200 suspected parasite burrows that most likely
were made by tiny worms similar to annelids and nematodes that infest animals
today, said assistant geology professor Karen Chin on Monday.
"Fossil evidence for interactions between dinosaurs
and invertebrates usually involves insects," said Chin. "This research is
exciting because it provides evidence for the movement of tiny, soft-bodied
organisms inside the gut cavity of a dinosaur."
Chin and graduate student Justin Tweet are presenting
their findings to a meeting in Philadelphia of the Geological Society of
"Typically a carcass attracts multiple scavengers,
and this one was largely undisturbed," Tweet said in a statement.
"Since the carcass was apparently buried before it
had a chance to fall apart, we think remnant parasites may have been living
inside of the animal when it died."
Duck-billed dinosaurs were plant-eaters, reaching up
to 50 feet long and weighing up to three tons.
This fossil, nicknamed "Leonardo," also had chewed-up
plants in its gut, useful for helping to identify what dinosaurs ate.