Some plant-eating dinosaurs snacked on crunchy critters | Science News

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Shhhh! Some plant-eating dinos snacked on crunchy critters

Crustacean shells discovered in fossilized poop reveal diet secrets of ancient herbivores

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9:00am, September 21, 2017
 Gryposaurus monumentensis

PROTEIN BOOST  Hadrosaurs like Gryposaurus monumentensis (illustrated) may have supplemented their veggie diets with meaty treats, roughly 75-million-year-old fossilized poop reveals.

Some dinosaurs liked to cheat on their vegetarian diet.

Based on the shape of their teeth and jaws, large plant-eating dinosaurs are generally thought to have been exclusively herbivorous. But for one group of dinosaurs, roughly 75-million-year-old poop tells another story. Their fossilized droppings, or coprolites, contained tiny fragments of mollusk and other crustacean shells along with an abundance of rotten wood, researchers report September 21 in Scientific Reports. Eating the crustaceans as well as the wood might have given the dinosaurs an extra dose of nutrients during breeding season to help form eggs and nourish the embryos.

“Living herd animals do occasionally turn carnivore to fulfill a particular nutritional need,” says vertebrate paleontologist Paul Barrett of the Natural History Museum in London. “Sheep and cows are known to eat carcasses or bone when they

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