Read aloud Or did the pits contain germs like the Komodo dragon? Today, the chemical warfare in animals is nothing special, especially reptiles have evolved in the course of evolution refined poison sprays. That their ancestors, the dinosaurs already had such deadly weapons, was previously pure speculation. The petrification of a two-centimeter-long tooth could now bring light into the darkness of Cretaceous weapons technology.

The Mexican researchers Ruben Rodriguez-de la Rosa of the Museo del Desierto and Francisco Aranda-Manteca of the Universidad Autonoma de Baja California presented their find to the public at the annual meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology. The tooth has a single pit-like incision, with which the previously unknown animal apparently injected the poison into the bodies of its victims. The fossil remains have a certain resemblance to the teeth of a velociraptor, but the typical saw-shaped serrations are missing.

Whether this find indeed proves the existence of venomous dinosaurs is controversial. Hans-Dieter Sues of the Royal Ontario Museum does not rule this out, but in his opinion the pit could have contained a supply of putrid food leftovers in which pathogenic germs thrived. In this way, the bite would not have killed the victim, but at least weakened by illness. The Komodo monitors are still using this tactic.

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Joachim Schüring


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