Bone Crushers: Teeth reveal changing times in the Pleistocene | Science News

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Bone Crushers: Teeth reveal changing times in the Pleistocene

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9:04am, July 24, 2002

Many carnivores enjoy a good piece of meat, a slab of fat, a liver, perhaps a kidney from a fresh kill, but they tend to leave the bones behind. When the pickings are slim, however, they'll chomp the bones and suck out the marrow, a practice that can break the diner's teeth.

Tooth-fracture incidence among carnivores in the fossil record can indicate how much bone the animals crunched and, therefore, something about the ecology of their time. A new study suggests, surprisingly, that dire wolves, Canis dirus, experienced less tooth breakage as they neared extinction.

The study's authors examined fossilized jaws from two distinct dire wolf populations preserved in the Rancho La Brea tar pits in Los Angeles. Dire wolves from 15,000 year

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