DK Science: Attack

Flesh-eating dinosaurs had different methods of attack that varied with their size, agility, and victims. Large predators crept up on giant herbivores and killed them with a sudden charge. Smaller hunters chased game at speed. Predators struck mainly with their fangs and claws, but some, such as Baryonyx, might have seized fish in their crocodile-like jaws. It is also possible that certain dinosaurs poisoned their unfortunate victims with a toxic bite.

Slashing claw

Dinosaurs that hunted and killed other animals tended to have very sharp, curved claws, like the talons of an eagle. Perhaps the most terrifying clawed predator of the dinosaur era was Deinonychus (“terrible claw”). It had a huge sickle-shaped claw on the second toe of each foot. In an attack, it could have grabbed its prey with its jaws and hands and, while balancing on one leg, it may have disembowelled its victim with its claw, which it swung back and forth in a slashing motion.

Chasing down prey

Lightweight theropods had a slender build, with long necks and balancing tails. Such features would have made them fast sprinters. These predators would have used their speed and agility to pursue lizards, frogs, and other small creatures. When they caught up with them, they either grabbed them with their clawed hands, or thrust out their long necks and snapped up their victim with their narrow, sharp-toothed jaws.

Death by poison

The largest living reptile, the Komodo Dragon has a poisonous bite. Its saliva is full of festering bacteria living on rotten meat stuck in its teeth. Some dinosaurs may have adopted such a tactic, making them a doubly lethal killer. If the bite did not kill the prey, the poison certainly would.

Copyright © 2007 Dorling Kindersley

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