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Venomous Dinosaurs

January 4, 2010

A venomous feathered dinosaur may have eaten its prey alive.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
A fatal dino bite…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

An ancient feathered dinosaur called Sinornithosaurus subdued its prey with a deadly venom. The birdlike creature inhabited China about 128 million years ago. Paleontologist Larry Martin of the University of Kansas says this is the first known example of venom in a relative of modern birds. He says the dinosaurs sported saber-like teeth near the back of their jaws.

LARRY MARTIN (University of Kansas):
And these long teeth have very distinct shallow grooves on the outside of the teeth, and this makes them very similar to the teeth in the rear-fanged poisonous snakes today.

HIRSHON:
Martin says the turkey-sized creature may have swooped down on small, unsuspecting dinosaurs and birds, and bitten them.

MARTIN:
We think that what it did was throw the animal very rapidly into shock and immobilize it, and it would be consumed at leisure.

HIRSHON:
I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.