- The Paleontological Society
A partial skeleton of Daspletosaurus sp. from the Late Cretaceous (Campanian) Two Medicine Formation of western Montana preserves the first gut contents reported for a tyrannosaurid. Associated remains found with this skeleton consist of acid-etched vertebrae and a fragmentary dentary from juvenile hadrosaur dinosaurs. Hadrosaur bonebed data and comparisons of hadrosaur and tyrannosaurid limb proportions suggest that juvenile hadrosaurs represented both an abundant and accessible food source. The surface corrosion exhibited by the hadrosaur elements matches that produced by stomach acids and digestive enzymes in a wide variety of living vertebrates. Based upon these and other gut contents, and also upon tooth-marked bone studies, it appears that Daspletosaurus and most theropods ingested and digested prey in a manner similar to that of extant archosaurs (crocodilians and birds), employing a two-part stomach with an enzyme-producing proventriculus followed by a thick-walled muscular gizzard. This two-part stomach appears to be an archosaur synapomorphy.