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Some 220 million years ago, the Triassic period marked the beginning of the age of dinosaurs. But by the time the earliest dinosaurs were starting to appear in the fossil record, it was distant relatives of crocodiles that reigned over both the water and land.

Among these ancient reptiles, croc-like phytosaurs were the largest aquatic predators while gigantic rauisuchids ruled the land. We know both of these animals from multiple fossil specimens from around the world, but how or whether they interacted is poorly understood.

Stephanie-Drumheller-Horton Stephanie Drumheller, a lecturer in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is part of a UT–Virginia Tech joint research team that has analyzed the remains of some of the largest rauisuchids from North America. The team found bite marks on the bones of two separate animals. One fossil, a thigh bone from an animal estimated to be 30 feet long, showed evidence of at least three separate attacks.

Among the other traces was a rare find: a tooth stuck in the rauisuchid’s thigh bone. It is the first embedded phytosaur tooth tooth to be identified. Drumheller and her team realized quickly they had found something special. Read the full article on The Conversation.


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Lindsey Owen (865-974-6375,