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Foss. Rec., 21, 55-66, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/fr-21-55-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
28 Feb 2018
Eggs for breakfast? Analysis of a probable mosasaur biting trace on the Cretaceous echinoid Echinocorys ovata Leske, 1778
Christian Neumann and Oliver Hampe Museum für Naturkunde – Leibniz-Institut für Evolutions- und Biodiversitätsforschung, Invalidenstrasse 43, 10115 Berlin, Germany
Abstract. Fossil biting traces (praedichnia) represent indirect evidence of predation and shed light on fossil predator–prey interactions and fossil food webs. Especially from echinoderm skeletons, biting traces are well known. Here, we describe the oral surface of a large Cretaceous (Maastrichtian) holasteroid echinoid Echinocorys ovata Leske, 1778 from Hemmoor (northern Germany) which exhibits four circular punctures arranged in a semi-circular arc. Whereas three of the punctures penetrated the skeleton, one puncture only just hit the margin of the echinoid test at the ambitus, leaving a long incision furrow in the skeleton. The punctures were not lethal to the sea urchin as is indicated by progressed skeletal regeneration and closure of the fractures. The overall appearance of the punctures suggests that they were produced during a single mechanical event, most likely by the biting action of the teeth of a large vertebrate animal. We analysed the shape and arrangement of the biting trace and conclude that it was probably produced by a marine reptile possessing a prognath tooth position, most likely by a globidensine mosasauroid. Our finding not only sheds light on mosasaur feeding behaviour and prey selection but also increases the knowledge of the food webs in the chalk sea ecosystem during the uppermost Cretaceous.

Citation: Neumann, C. and Hampe, O.: Eggs for breakfast? Analysis of a probable mosasaur biting trace on the Cretaceous echinoid Echinocorys ovata Leske, 1778, Foss. Rec., 21, 55-66, https://doi.org/10.5194/fr-21-55-2018, 2018.
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Short summary
We describe a biting trace on the oral surface of a large Maastrichtian holasteroid echinoid Echinocorys ovata from Hemmoor (northern Germany) which exhibits four circular punctures, arranged in a semi-circular arc. The punctures were not lethal to the sea urchin as is indicated by progressed skeletal regeneration and closure of the fractures. The shape and arrangement of the biting trace are analyzed suggesting that it was produced most likely by a globidensine mosasauroid.
We describe a biting trace on the oral surface of a large Maastrichtian holasteroid echinoid...
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