Gut worms killed dinosaurs
www.chinaview.cn 2006-10-25 16:28:42

    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.

An artist's conception of Leonardo, a duck-billed dinosaur known as a brachylophosaur excavated in Montana.

An artist's conception of Leonardo, a duck-billed dinosaur known as a brachylophosaur excavated in Montana. (Reuters Photo)
Photo Gallery >>>

    An 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.

   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 America.

    "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.

    (Agencies)

Editor: Gareth Dodd
E-mail Us Print This Article
Related Stories
Fossils found in Inner Monglia may explain extinction of dinosaurs
Dinosaur cleared of cannibalism
New dinosaur rears its long neck in Brazil
Fossils of new dinosaur species unearthed
China to excavate dinosaur fossil