A study of an Allosaurus fossil found that the massive dinosaur dined more like a kestrel than a crocodile, tearing flesh from carcasses by pulling its head straight back.
At first glance, a nearly 30-foot long, 150-million-year-old dinosaur may not seem to have much in common with a modern-day bird of prey, but according to new research, the Allosaurus and the falcon at least had the same table manners.
In a study published this week in the journal Palaeontologia Electronica, Ohio University researchers used a CT scanner to create a digital image of an Allosaurus fragilis skull. After adding neck and jaw muscles, air sinuses, and a windpipe to the image, they then, using a physics simulator, modeled how the dinosaur would have moved its head.
They found that, unlike the Tyrannosaurus, which paleontologists say dismembered its victims by thrashing its head from side to side like a crocodile, the Allosaurus, which, like Tyrannosaurus walked on two legs and had stubby forelimbs, most likely dined by biting into its prey and then tearing the flesh retracting its head back and upward.
Their discovery hinged on a neck muscle that was unusually positioned on the Allosaurus. On most predatory dinosaurs, such as the T. rex the longissimus capitis superficialis runs along the side of the neck, where it attaches to a bony protrusion at the base of the skull. But on the Allosaurus, the muscle is attached much lower on the skull.