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Venomous Dinosaurs

January 4, 2010

A venomous feathered dinosaur may have eaten its prey alive.


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.

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

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

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