Science Says: People Buried Vampires, Tyrannosaurs Hunted Prey
And Now For Something Completely Different
Today in part seven of our ongoing series Things People Dug Out of the Ground, new evidence of Slavic vampire burial practices and proof that Tyrannosaurus rex wasn’t the cowardly scavenger that know it all little kid tried to convince you it was back in the third grade.
Okay, I’m going to level with you: we don’t have an ongoing series about archeological and paleontological discoveries. But you can rest assured that if we did it would be called Things People Dug Out of the Ground.
So, today in things people dug out of the ground, a suspected vampire burial found in Poland!
When construction workers found an ancient grave where they wanted their highway to be, archeologists were called in and found a number of skeletons buried in a particularly gruesome way. Their heads had been cut off and laid between their legs, “an ancient Slavic burial practice for disposing of suspected vampires, in hopes that decapitated individuals wouldn’t be able to rise from their tombs.” You can read more about burials that seem to have been motivated by ensuring that the dead remain dead over at National Geographic.
And in special dinosaur news, scientists have long suspected that Tyrannosaurus rex was a hunting carnivore, because, come one, the alternative is just way less awesome. But hard evidence that T. rex actually chowed down on living dinosaurs, instead of subsisting only by scavenging for carcasses, was understandably scarce in the fossil record. Most predators don’t actually die mid-dinner.
But recently, paleontologists unearthed two hadrosaur vertebrae that had become fused over the life of the animal. And at the center of the growth that fused those two vertebrae? There was a Tyrannosaurus fang.
Based on their analysis, the encounter likely happened in the Late Cretaceous about 66 million years ago. After the attack, bone grew over the wound, fusing the two vertebrae together. This healing process would have likely taken several years, so the herbivore lived long after the close call.
So thank a poor hadrosaur with a very stiff tail for confirming: Tyrannosaurus rex totally chomped other dinosaurs. At least once. Ever. In the entire history of the universe. You can read more about what this means for scientific understanding at io9.
(top pic via Threadless.)