Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Prehistoric Warfare Episode 5: Iguanodon vs Neovenator

Now for something different. In 2004, Animal Planet showed as new series called Animal Face Off, a series reconstructing conflicts between coexisting animals. While the execution was clumsy and lacking, the concept is strong and I think easily applied to prehistoric fauna.  Ideally, there would be professionals discussing the situations, but unfortunately, you have only me. First I will compare the animals, and then depict their behavior, before concluding with the final battle.  The outcome will be my personal opinion; and there would be many times when the outcome would be decidedly different. This is not a scientific consensus, but one researcher’s opinion.

We all love dinosaur battles. They’re always a high point in a film. It’s childish, but it’s just plain fun. So, I’m hoping to use this opportunity to use this almost-universal appeal to get people thinking and talking about ecology, biomechanics, and behavior. Only one or two of these stories will be based on actual fossils-the rest are likely possibilities that must have happened sometime or another. In real life, animals usually don’t fight on even terms, but it does happen. Sometimes prey turn the tables, sometimes predators quarrel between themselves, but it can happen. I hope you enjoy this. Again, first I will have two scenes, one for each animal showing them in their habitat and showcasing their particular skills, then finally concluding with a battle between the two.


The Cretaceous was a time of great change for the reptiles.  The continents further spread apart, the temperatures crashed then spiked, and flora and fauna changed dramatically.  Now, it’s 125 million years before the present, at the end of the Barremian age.  In the Jurassic, this area was covered by a shallow sea that broke Europe into island. In our time it will be the County of Hampshire on  the Southern coast of England.  As of the Barremian, and today’s battles, there is a brief period of England before the islands are covered again by the European sea.  This environment has upland lakes and plains, and lowland marshes and river deltas.  

There are still the main orders of plants from the Jurassic around, but among them are a new group: flowering plants.  Flowering trees shelter in the pine forests, lily-like water flowers float through the horsetail marshes, and flowering weeds nestle through the fern prairies.   Likewise, there’s a big shift in animals as well. Many groups have remained, others have changed drastically.

The Stegosaurs are nearly gone.  None survive in North America, and here in Hampshire Regnosaurus is a rare sight. A small crèche of them moved through here a few weeks ago, but they won’t be seen again in a long time, having swum off to another island for the time being. 

The ankylosaurs, on the other hand, have done quite well. In the early dawn light, Polacanthus stirs. He’s only a half again bigger than the Jurassic ankylosaurs, but the genus is far more common.  His keen sense of smell only detects wet ferns. Another sniff, however, reveals more dinosaurs in the area. None of them are predators, however; their scents are distinct.  

The new arrivals appear in the morning fog: a mixed herd of sauropods and ornithopods. The line of Apatosaurus is all but ended, but Brachiosaurus and Camarosaurus have left many kin.  This herd is of Pelorosaurus, one of the first titanosaurs on the isles.  They resemble Camarosaurus, only black with white markings on the head and stripes on the limbs.  Sauropods have suffered from the extinction, but have bounced back.

Among them are the real winners of the Cretaceous, however. Camptosaurus and Uteodon have successors, and they are legion.  Fanning out in front of the big black sauropod phalanx are a horde of Mantellisaurs. Iguanodonts have conquered the world-every continent will soon have a genus of them.  Two genera make up the main herbivores of Europe-these smaller, blue and grey Mantellisaurs, and the larger green and black Iguanodon. 

Mantellisaurs aren’t as common as Iguanodon, but they are substantial in population, and group more densley. Right now they’re following the sauropod herds, clearing the low growth and fallen foliage.  Small Valdosaurus (kin of Dryosaurus) and Hypsilophodon (kin of Othnielosaurus) follow them in turn, but often range out in family groups.  This group has teamed their strong vision with the excellent sense of smell of the sauropods in search of food and water. This lush new growth provides a feast for the entire herd and then some.

The herd quickly covers not only the fern prairie but spreads into the swamp.  Crocodiles from all five genera swim away from the herd’s trampling feat. Crocodile diversity is high-not only are there three kinds of Goniopholids but two mesosuchians and one true Crocodile or Eusuchian.  They’re too small to challenge the Mantellisaurs, let alone the titanosaurs. 

The real predator of the region is standing motionless on the other side of a stand of trees.  She is a Neovenator, heir to the Allosaur crown. They took casualties during the end of the Jurassic, but as long as the prey are vulnerable to Allosaur tactics, they will survive.  She’s a veteran of 20 years of constant eating, growing, and fighting. She’s tasted every animal in this forest, even the armored Hylaeosaurus and her own species. She’s not a gourmand-Allosaurs her size do not specialize. It’s more efficient than the Saurophaganax strategy of targeting sauropods.

During the mating season, when her head crests flare scarlet, she hunts with her mate, but this time of year she hunts alone. She loses a key aide, but doesn’t have to share.  She’s only a little smaller than Allosaurus-she’s big enough to take on most prey. She’s inherited Allosaurus’ weapons, too-long legs and tail for quick movement, curved claws on hands and feet for seizing prey, and a light skull with jaws lined with curved, serrated teeth.  Her behavioral instincts are all Allosaur-a wide variety of simple strategies and  actions. The prey isn’t getting any smarter, so her brain doesn’t need to be much smarter than theirs.

Her mind is dependent on stimuli-what she sees, hears, and smells. Right now it’s the smell of prey animals. Her parents fed her regurgitated warm meat as a chick, and she knows the smells of prey animals by heart.  Her experience tells her to be still, to wait until they’re close enough. All predators today, from fish to humans, know the value of patience. 

The Mantellisaurs come closer-their beaks and tooth batteries make short work of a lot of the foliage. They’re not picky eaters-they have the best chewing apparatus in the world right now, and can process any greenery.  The herd is big enough to cover a few miles, and some of them have even walked past Neovenator.  She’s lost her patience before-wasted attempts that failed to catch the prey.
This time she will wait, and she doesn’t have to wait for long. Sure enough, one of the elder Manteliisaurs has been shoved out of the main group.  They herd together, but feeding oneself comes before allowing food for the elderly. This old female has arthritis, and she can’t keep up with the others. She’s been lucky so far in living long enough to get arthritis-most animals in the wild die before reaching maturity, an eternal constant.  She’s covered with scars from predator attacks-packs of Ornithodesmus, young Baryonyx and Neovenator, even crocodiles have threatened her in her youth. Her golden days are over, though. 

Fortunately for her, she doesn’t brain power to have a midlife crisis, and even if she did she wouldn’t have enough time to think about it. Right now she’s walking right into Neovenator’s kill zone.  The worst thing that can happen to prey is to be upwind from a predator, and it happens often enough to keep predators fed.  It’s easy to get distracted, and it’s easy for the wind to betray one party or the other; it’s a matter of luck. This time, luck favors the killer

The crashing of branches gives Mantellisaurus only a second’s warning before Neovenator is upon her.  The ancient carnosaur tactic is employed: charging forward, arms forward and out, mouth wide open and head straight forward.  Neovenator has the classic Allosaurus physique-she uses tactics worn from millions of years of work. Neither the sauropods or ornithopods have evolved counters to it.  Ankylosaurs resist it, but they’re too small to be worthwhile prey in the first place.  

She impacts with Mantellisaurus, 2 tons of muscle and bone behind 40 3-inch serrated teeth slashing into the flank of the herbivore.   Manteliisaurus was in a bipedal stance, and the impact hits her right in front of her center of gravity. She twists to the side, but falls into the water, unbalanced. She crushes a turtle underneath her and sends some sleeping crocodiles scattering for cover.

The shock of the hit and blood loss does its job- Mantellisaurus struggles to right herself in the marsh, but can’t in enough time before Neovenator strikes again. Like a giant bird of play, she places her taloned  foot on  the back of Mantellisaurus’ shoulders, knocking her into the mud.  She then steps backwards, seemingly giving Mantellisaurus a reprieve. She isn’t;  no sooner does Neovenator back off than she leans forward, anchors herself with her hand talons, and bites into the neck of the iguanodont. 

There is no battle-it’s a perfect kill. Animals must always play a delicate game: calories must be spent in order to acquire more of the same.  Predators have it especially difficult-they must be efficient enough to get food without spending too much energy or injuring themselves.  Hence, the dynasty of Allosaurus has developed their unique system of ambush predation and a physiology to maximize the effect.  

Endless hunts have started with an ambush from cover, and ended with Neovenator’s next act. She grasps the neck of her prey in her mouth, and delivers a hard bite pulling back with her powerful neck. In a single action, she severs the arteries, the windpipe, and the spinal cord of Mantellisaurus.  The bite of a carnosaur is like a stroke from a saber-the momentum behind the weapon is the lethal part, and the weapon itself is designed to maximize the effect to create a large, deep wound that carves up flesh and scores the bone.  The speed of the horse is replaced by the momentum of the charging carnosaur and the pull of the neck.

The teeth now turn from sabers to butcher knives as Neovenator rips open Mantellisaurus’ abdomen with her teeth and claws. She works quickly-scavengers abound in this ecosystem. The small ones like Aristosuchus and the crocodiles aren’t much of a threat, but Eotyrannus, Baryonyx and other Neovenator may also come and while she’s more of a match for each, it’s not worth fighting one after the other. 
It was a good day-any day when she can kill without injury is a good day. Neovenator is a successful apex predator in the prime of her life, and if her luck holds, she’ll live another 10 years and rule her territory. 

Herbivores live the same way-the main survival strategy is to simply avoid predators.  One particularly successful one is a 15 year old Iguanodon, in the prime of his life.  He’s been mating for seven years, and he’s now more than 10 tons. His flanks are scarred-fighting rivals in the mating season involves drawing blood with hoof and spur. His six-inch spurs have won a great deal of genetic propagation, and inflicted serious wounds on some of his rivals.

He’s usually not fighting, however, but engaging in the activity of all awake animals-stuffing his face.  Not only have Iguanodon and Mantellisaurus continued the Camptosaur dental batteries, but made them more sophisticated. Each slightly curved tooth has a chisel edge with small serrations, and packed in batteries they slice through the greenery efficiently.  Iguanodon is operating on instinctive hunger as he tears through a field of horsetails in the swamp, but unknowingly is doing something new and revolutionary: he is chewing. The giant Iuticosaurus doesn’t chew-they swallow the stones of the river to grind down their food in their gizzard. Polacanthus doesn’t chew-they let their big, wide guts soak the foliage in hours of acid bath. Neovenator doesn’t chew-meat is much easier to digest so she just swallows down whatever she can carve up.

By stuffing his cheeks and moving his jaws, Iguanodon is doing what his descendants  will do, what the horned dinosaurs will do, and what almost every kind of land mammal, including even humans with our puny jaws and teeth, will do.  He isn’t as efficient as the bovids of the late age of mammals with their four-chambered stomachs, but his oral blender makes him the best at what he does.
It helps him grow fast-he was mating at 7 years old, before the titanosaurs or even the predatory theropods of the area.  This, plus the tendency to flock in large family groups, has made Iguanodon and his kin conquer the world. Among the dinosaurs, only them and the titanosaurs can be found on every single continent. 

Today, he’s not thinking about it-that kind of abstract thinking is beyond his brain. All he’s thinking about is food. He smells lilies in the water, and promptly goes to work on them. Those dental batteries can devastate entire plant communities, so flowering plants, as they grow and propagate far faster than other plant groups, have become commonplace. 
Iguanodon is less socially complex as Mantellisaurus; They don’t even eat together if they can help it. Right now, a juvenile, only a few years old, has wandered away from his siblings and parents.  The Iguanodon we’re following ignores the youngster-there will be no conflict unless there is a direct confrontation over the food, and there’s plenty and to spare. 
Nonetheless, the young Iguanodon is being watched with great attention.  Neovenator isn’t the only big theropod of the region. In the late Jurassic, Allosaurus and Torvosaurus were rivals in the same niche-however, their descendants and kin have gone separate ways. While Neovenator is still similar to Allosaurus, Baryonyx is alien compared to Torvosaurus. The heavy snout is replaced by a long, narrow one, the short paws have grown longer and became tipped with huge, curved claws,  and the broad curved slashing teeth have given away to smooth-sided sharp-pointed conical teeth. 

In these growing wetlands and constantly competing with carnosaurs, the megalosaurs have gone a different path. These are the megalosaurs of the Cretaceous :the spinosaurs. Instead of chasing sauropods alongside the allosaurs, they are generalists; they eat smaller dinosaurs, scavenge, fish, crocodiles, turtles, etc. They’ve gone on to usurp the crocodile’s role, taking on prey too big for even the crocs. This one is an old girl-she’s almost 30 and covered with scars.  Her head crest, once brilliant crimson, is now a faded maroon. The brown and white scales are crisscrossed with faint pale marks from the spikes of prey and the teeth and claws of other predators. Despite her arthritis, she’s still a formidable hunter-moving across the land and water at a frightening pace.  She’s had everything from small proto-bowfins to carrion of the giant Oplosaurus.The shallows are her terrain of choice-while her short powerful limbs can sent her through the mud quickly enough, her long tail gives added propulsion in the water. Of course, going too deep is a danger-she once swam out to shore with her mate and lost him to a hungry pliosaur.

She’s already picked out her prey-the juvenile. Juvenile iguanodonts make fine prey-they’re not as quick and agile as Hypsilophodon, or as big and powerful as adults. She’s had them before-not as much meat as an adult Iguanodon but not nearly as risky.  She’s followed this herd for a while, snacking on the fish and aquatic reptiles dislodged in their way, eating the occasional carcass. This time, she’s going in for the kill.
The juvenile’s making things easy for her, wandering away from the herd. Baryonyx’s vision is bad, but boosted by excellent senses of smell and hearing. When the smell and splashing get closer, she crouches for the sprint. She’s a bad runner, and her arthritis doesn’t help, but she can rush in a fast, short burst, rising from her periodic crouch to her full erect height. A few steps should be able to bring her on top of the juvenile Iguanodon. 

Closer, closer, closer…now! Her hindlimbs may be shorter than Neovenators, but still powerful and summoning her power into a spring she’s rushing at the prey. She’s done this hundreds of time before. It usually takes something special to throw her off.  Unfortunately, something special just happens.
As she steps forward, one of her tridactyl feet lands on a Helochelydra turtle. At 3 tons, she crunches the turtle with a loud snap and splash.  The juvenile Iguanodon bolts, splashing through the shallows. Baryonyx can’t give up now-her mind is in predatory mode, and that tells her to pursue.  Baryonyx’s wide, splayed feet give her good purchase in the mud, and she isn’t slowed down by the terrain. In response, however, the Iguanodon rears itself up on its hind legs, and runs bipedally. 

Baryonyx is so focused on her prey she neglects the rest of the herd. She doesn’t notice the adult male until it’s too late. She’s crossed his path, and alarmed him from his browsing. In a single, smooth motion, he rears back onto his hind legs, lets out a loud bellow, and kicks out with his front feet.  Unfortunately for Baryonyx, the Iguanodon’s spurs slash her neck, nicking key arteries.
Baryonyx wasn’t expecting this, of course. She reels and stumbles in pain, then turns to snap at her attacker.  It’s too late:  Iguanodon’s already ran past her, and with a twitch of his powerful caudofemoral muscles, his two-ton tail crashes into the predator. Already disoriented and confused, this impact knocks Baryonyx right into the water with a tremendous splash.  Red-tinted water flies meters into the air, and the splash echoes across the landscape. 

Luckily for Baryonyx, she’s low-slung and uses her huge hooked claws to pull herself back up. Unfortunately for the predator, Iguanodon had turned around again, pivoting quickly to face his attacker.  No sooner does Baryonyx begin to face her foe, than both Iguanodon forefeet slam into her head, one right after another. The impacts enough aren’t serious, but his foot spikes are; both spear the side of her rostrum, piercing into the bone. The holes made are small, but extremely painful.  Stunned, Baryonyx reels away.  She roars, instinctively, even as those pierced blood vessels empty into the marsh. 
By this time, the juvenile has fled into the thicket of adult Iguanodons quickly leaving the scene.  The big male sweeps his tail as he turns, missing, but he doesn’t bother looking back. Baryonyx doesn’t pursue-she can’t do much but limp off and quietly bleed out.  In the night, Neovenator comes for her. It’s an easy kill for the queen of Hampshire.  It’s a theropod eat theropod world, same as it will be for millions of years into the days where apes invent language.
She’ll keep eating well until the dry season. That’s when the lakes shrink, and the rivers turn salty, and the herbivores are more wary, desperate, and less numerous. At first the carrion is plentiful, but eventually she’ll be forced to share with the other predators of England, or leave her territory entirely.  That’s when predators take greater chances.
The day comes with Neovenator going on patrol in what is now Leicester, passing by a vast Oplosaurus skeleton, picked clean by scavengers, and a young Polacanthus, already too spiny to be a fulfilling meal.  She sleeps close enough to the watering hole to hunt and drink, but not so close to alert the prey when she does get hungry.   It’s not as dry as the Jurassic period, but it’s still a nuisance; she has to walk longer to find the herds, and turtles and crocs are no longer an easy fallback food. She even has to fight off Baryonyx more often.  She won’t find a mate-all the males are looking for food, and are just as likely to try to eat her than to help hunt for food. 

Today she’s trying her luck with the Iguanodon.  During the beginning of the dry season, the herds of prey species intermingled into these vast columns of which she could only follow waiting for a sick or dead individual to fall.  Now they’ve finally spread out, and all she has to do is pick out the weakest.  The reasoning isn’t from her simple mind, but from evolution of instinct and ecology that has made her the greatest hunter in Britain.

Following the herd is easy-finding suitable prey is not. She does remember that it was Iguanodon that gave her some of her scars, and the memory of the pain usually steers her away from adults. The problem is that the breeding season and hatching seasons are over, and for the most part, the youngsters are now agile and wary and can keep up. She’s going to have to take a risk, get close with the adults. She’s done it before, but she’s been foiled before as well.

Meanwhile, Iguanodon’s had some problems of his own. While he escaped from Baryonyx, some parasitic worms from the dirty water are taking their tool. Parasites evolve quickly;  dinosaurs have been popular targets from the beginning of the Mesozoic. He’s been infected even before his battle with Baryonyx, and it keeps getting worse.   Natural selection sometimes plays a role in the fate of individuals-sometimes it’s just bad luck. 

He’s lagging behind, but he’s still strong enough to hold his own.  When the herd moves out, he lingers behind the younger ones but still leads the elders.  Right now it’s late in the morning, the sun climbing and drying the mud at the Iguanodonts’ feet and on their bodies.  They’re awake, but they’re relaxed. No alarms all day, and no predator bigger than the dog-sized Ornithodesmus has been spotted.  They’re decimating their way through the upland forests, shoving shoulders with other herbivores. Valdosaurus and Hypsilophodon are forced to quickly dodge the giants, and Mantellisaurs are shoved aside.  Iguanodon himself has the bad luck, however, of having to shave a grove with a group of gigantic Titanosaurs. They’ve picked off all the upper growth of the conifers but now they’re moving down to the angiosperms that Iguanodon usually eats. He’s used to getting his way, and with sauropods being fairly uncommon, he usually does.
Frustrated and no match for the gigantic masses of flesh and bone, he walks off by himself to eat at a smaller deciduous tree which some greenery left. A low rumble chases off a trio of Valdosaurs attempting to feed , and he settles in, having to rear up bipedally to reach the higher branches.  As usual, his beak and his dental batteries make short work of all vegetation he can fit in his mouth. His mind is simple but efficient-food first. Food equals life. Plants equal food. 

Meanwhile, Neovenator has arrived. A Baryonyx and Eotyrannus quietly leave the area-they could be prey themselves if they’re not careful.  In the dry season, predators can just as easily become prey for each other. The Early Cretaceous, however, is much wetter than the Jurassic-times aren’t as desperate. Of course, no animal takes chances unless the stakes are very high. For Neovenator, the stakes are high enough to risk an attack. She hasn’t made a kill in a week, and predators her size need constant fuel.   The closest prey is a Hypsilophodon, too small to be worth the chase; she only eats them when she can catch them entirely by surprise and there’s not enough cover here and now.  She has just enough cover to get close to the copse of trees by Iguanodon and the Titanosaurs. 
The herbivores may be eating, but they are still alert. For hundreds of millions of years, prey animals have evolved laterally-placed eyes. While this sacrifices stereoscopic vision and makes distances harder to judge, this gives them a very wide range of vision to see attacks.   Neovenator circumvents this by keeping her distance, keeping a screen of trees in the way. Her depth perception is foiled due to her head crests, but she has good enough vision, scent, and hearing to focus on a single target.  She can afford to keep her distance with her speed, but even then Iguanodon can outpace her with luck.

Neovenator manages to close to 50 feet to the edge of the trees. If she walks closer for a shorter run, she’ll alert the sauropods, and an angry titanosaur is the last thing she wants.  She can wait for hours, but not forever. A few minutes pass. Finally, an opportunity comes; one of the giant sauropods walks over to Iguanodon’s tree. Iguanodon bellows in defiance but the hungry titan is not to be intimidated and keeps marching on.  It’s more than 14 tons of Sauropod against less than 4 tons of Iguanodon, and the warrior must give way.
As Iguanodon leaves the grove, he walks right by Neovenator.  Her sensitive nose picks up his scent, his dark green shape registers in her vision-Iguanodon. She knows he’s an adult, a hard target. In the wet season she wouldn’t hunt him unless she had a mate.  Now, however, she has to take chances. She’s done it before-most of the time they get away this strong, but she has brought them down.    Her mind can’t process long-term risk analyses; all she knows is that she’s hungry, and that she knows how to take him down.
He’s passed her by to focus on another tree. In a few seconds, he’ll be with the other Iguanodons, shoving his way to the greens. This is her chance. Neovenator survives on her instincts, and they’re telling her to strike.  Her leg muscles tense and then spring. Like her allosaur ancestors, she can hit more than 30 miles per hour in her sprints, and opens her jaws over 60 degrees wide when she goes on the attack. Her only noise is the pounding of her feet and her heavy breathing
She needs that speed-Iguanodon sees her coming and makes a move to run-she misses only by a second.  Neovenator’s curved, serrated teeth slash into his caudofemoralis at the very base of his tail. However, he gives as good as he gets, smashing his tail against the predator.  The impact sends her stumbling away in the mud, barely keeping her balance with huge sweeps of her tail. Likewise, the Iguanodon limps a few meters before turning around to see off the attacker.

This commotion has already startled the rest of the herds-the Valdosaurs and Hypsilophodon kick up mud as their broad, long-toed feet still propel them faster than any other dinosaurs, the Mantellisaurs are hooting in panic, and even the titanosaurs walk away in alarm.Even a group of Istiodactylus perched in a tree nearby take to the sky.

Iguanodon turns around to confront his attacker, rearing up on his hind feet. He lashes out threateningly with his hand spurs, and Neovenator backs away just in time. He holds his position, bellowing in anger and pain and fear, turning his head to look straight at Neovenator with his left eye, his hind feet stamping holes in the sand crust over the mud, his wounded tail erratically thrashing and smashing nearby plants.
Neovenator hisses in defiance and frustration and snaps.  She won’t dare attack him now, but she’s not giving up. She feints, he swipes, and she backs down again. They stare at each other with turned heads, their eyes unable to look straight ahead. The pause is long, as both animals catch their breaths.
They attack each other again, the Iguanodon kicking out with his forelimbs and Neovenator snapping at his neck. For a second it looks like Neovenator is going to kill with a single bite, but at the last possible second Iguanodon steps backward and slashes her snout. The cut is bloody, but not lethal-Allosaurs have boxy skulls but the brain is far and in the back.   Neovenator in turn steps backwards in pain.
This is when Iguanodon makes a mistake. His adrenaline slowly ebbs, and his short attention span kicks in; he steps on all fours again and begins to turn around. No sooner than is Iguanodon perpendicular to his enemy, Neovenator attacks again.  She takes a flying leap in the air, hand talons extended, jaws agape.
Iguanodon can only shift his weight not to be immediately knocked over; it’s too late to dodge the attack. One of her claws sinks into his shoulder, the other stabs into his chest. Her jaws close on Iguanodon’s neck, a perfect hit.  She plants one of her feet on his flank, trying to push him to the ground. For a few seconds, she pushes him down until his abdomen touches the water, but as it seems he’s going to fall, he shoves off. 

The sudden jarring movement as he rears one last time throws Neovenator off. Her jaws and claws are ripped free, slashing bloody paths on Iguanodon’s flesh. She crashes down onto her side, stunned, sending the mud splattering into the air and mixing with the falling blood. Iguanodon roars as he rears to his full height and turns towards his fallen attacker.

He comes down ,hard, stomping on her side. Neovenator roars in pain as Iguanodon’s hooves crack ribs and his spurs pierce into her flesh. For the moment, she’s at his tender mercies. The angry herbivore roars in turn as he steps backwards, blood pouring from his wounds. He plants his front feet on the ground, but he can easily rear back up and come down again to finish her off. The bellowing, however, slowly turns from anger to sheer pain as the blood loss kicks in.

With a sickly groan, Iguanodon falls flat onto his belly and joins his enemy in the mud.  For a minute, all is still, just two wounded dinosaurs collapsed in the mud. Then, finally Neovenator rights herself. Covered in mud and blood, she gingerly stands erect and walks towards her fallen foe. Fear and pain give way to hunger as her alertness fades. Iguanodon is passed out and dying-even if Neovenator was not feeding on him, his wounds are mortal and shock has shut down his entire system
Not fearing her prey any longer, Neovenator steps in to feast, her butcher-knife teeth carving up his flesh. Her injuries will heal-the scars the only memorial to this encounter.  Both her genes and those of Iguanodon will pass on, and their descendants will continue the saga that started in the middle Jurassic and will not end until almost the end of the Cretaceous. Neovenator has deadly daughters-ruling every continent, and the sons of Iguanodon will be among their prey.  Some of her descendants, however, will return to the job of their Allosaur ancestors-giant killers.


  1. There are three types of rocks: metamorphic, igneous, and sedimentary. Metamorphic rocks are formed through high pressure nad heat, igneous rocks are made from the cooling of magma, and sedimentary rocks are made from particles of other rocks which were transported and compacted by wind and water. Fossils are mostly found in sedimentary rocks because fossilization is a truly delicate process. Usually only the hard parts of an organism make it through, but sometimes soft part can leave impressions into sediment. Even the hard parts have a difficult time of being fossilized, for the remains could be eliminated by scavengers, bacteria, water, and wind can all contribute to the fossils’ demise. Paleontologists usually only find fragments at a time. It is rarely them finding a whole complete skeleton lying there waiting to be discovered.

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