Washington, July 12 : A new study on animal and plant remains excavated in southern England has revealed the life and death of a dinosaur known as Iguanodon.
According to a report in Discovery News, the study reveals that the Iguanodon died while feasting on ferns, perhaps after becoming stuck in a marshy floodplain, and was then consumed by an enormous dinosaur with huge claws that left behind a few of its teeth.
The findings even indicate what happened in the region well before the Iguanodon was born, as well as what took place after the hungry carnivore, Baryonyx, enjoyed its Iguanodon feast.
Dating to around 130,000 years ago and excavated at the Smokejacks Brickworks in Ockley, Surrey, the animal remains, along with pollen grains from some of the world's earliest flowering plants, spores, megaspores, green algae and shellfish, all paint a picture of certain events and what the environment there was like during the Early Cretaceous.
The pollen and spores indicate that many thousands of years before the Iguanodon was born, cone-bearing trees and big shrubs dominated the site. As time went on, liverworts and various types of ferns and mosses emerged.
Dense fern undergrowth was then dotted here and there with the early flowers, all belonging to the genus Retimonocolpites.
When the Iguanodon came on the scene, this plant eater had its pick of edibles.
"Iguanodon was a large herbivorous animal and probably fed on all available vegetation, the conifers as well as the leafy and more nutritious pteridophytes (mosses and ferns)," explained co-author Susanne Feist-Burkhardt.
"The Iguanodon probably moved out onto the exposed floodplain for the only available freshwater during the dry season and fed on the available plants," she added.
According to Feist-Burkhardt, numerous, extremely well-preserved ostracods, a shellfish commonly known as "seed shrimp," were preserved in the sediment next to the Iguanodon's remains. he even thinks that the decaying dino's body created a "micro-environment" that helped to prevent the calcium carbonate in the shells from dissolving.
Two Baryonyx teeth were also found near the Iguanodon, which she said might indicate "Baryonyx was scavenging the Iguanodon carcass."
Other studies show that this carnivore ate a lot of fish, so it's possible that the long-snouted meat eater with big, sharp claws stumbled upon the Iguanodon body while gulping down fish.
The manner in which the Iguanodon's body decomposed suggests the herbivorous dinosaur may have died in a standing position, or had its body fall in that way, with its head resting where the shallow pool of freshwater met the sediment surface.
Green algae, enriched by nutrients in the dead dino's flesh, then bloomed brightly around it.