Healed or non-healed? computed tomography (CT) visualisation of morphology of bite trace ichnotaxa on a dinosaur bone

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Bite traces on fossilised bones can provide important information on predator-prey relations and interactions in ancient environments. In 2009, two new ichnotaxa, Linichnus serratus and Knethichnus parallelum, were introduced to develop the application of bite traces as an ichnological tool. Ichnotaxa defined by theropod bite traces can provide useful information for understanding feeding behaviour. However, objective interpretation of possible bite traces can be difficult using traditional visual inspection. In this study, the bite traces on a fossilised dinosaur bone were comprehensively examined by correlating traditional naked-eye in spection with computed to mography (CT) imaging, used to visualise the internal morphology of the bite traces and in particular, to clarify the appearance of one possibly healed bite trace. A forensic pathologist visually examined the bone with the aid of stereomicroscopy and a radiologist analysed the CT scans. Sixteen different scanner settings were used to optimise the CT parameters and avoid signal at tenuation, in the form of hypointense artefacts in the central trabeculated part of the bone fragment. The use of CT scanning provided information on internal morphology from the vicinity of the bite trace, including hyperdense zones, not identified using visual inspection alone. By applying the extended CT scale, the dense and radiopaque cortical bone layer could be clearly identified and applied as a pathomorphological marker to correctly distinguish non-healed from healed wounds. In conclusion, the authors demonstrate that external visual examination of trace fossils by ichnologists in combination with interior examination using CT imaging can be applied to characterise ichnotaxa defined by bite traces and potentially provide clues on ancient feeding behaviour.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSocietatis Geologorum Poloniae. Annales
Pages (from-to)457-464
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2015

    Research areas

  • Bite traces, dinosaur bone, theropod, CT, stereomicroscopy

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