Calcium isotopes offer clues on resource partitioning among Cretaceous predatory dinosaurs

Large predators are overabundant in mid-Cretaceous continental dinosaur assemblages of North Africa. Such unbalanced ecosystem structure involves, among predatory dinosaurs, typical abelisaurid or carcharodontosaurid theropods co-occurring with long-snouted spinosaurids of debated ecology. Here, we report calcium (Ca) isotope values from tooth enamel (expressed as ’44/42Ca) to investigate resource partitioning in mid-Cretaceous assemblages from Niger (Gadoufaoua) and Morocco (Kem Kem Beds). In both assemblages, spinosaurids display a distinct isotopic signature, the most negative in our dataset. This distinct taxonomic clustering in Ca isotope values observed between spinosaurids and other predators provides unambiguous evidence for niche partitioning at the top of the trophic chains: spinosaurids foraged on aquatic environments while abelisaurid and carcharodontosaurid theropods relied almost exclusively on terrestrial resources.

Source: . Auguste Hassler, Jeremy E. Martin, Romain Amiot, Théo Tacail, Florent Arnaud-Godet, Ronan Allain et Vincent Balter, Proceedings of the Royal Society B. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2018.0197

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