The endocranium and trophic ecology of Velociraptor mongoliensis

J. Logan King, Justin S. Sipla, Justin A. Georgi, Amy M. Balanoff, James M. Neenan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Neuroanatomical reconstructions of extinct animals have long been recognized as powerful proxies for palaeoecology, yet our understanding of the endocranial anatomy of dromaeosaur theropod dinosaurs is still incomplete. Here, we used X-ray computed microtomography (µCT) to reconstruct and describe the endocranial anatomy, including the endosseous labyrinth of the inner ear, of the small-bodied dromaeosaur, Velociraptor mongoliensis. The anatomy of the cranial endocast and ear were compared with non-avian theropods, modern birds, and other extant archosaurs to establish trends in agility, balance, and hearing thresholds in order to reconstruct the trophic ecology of the taxon. Our results indicate that V. mongoliensis could detect a wide and high range of sound frequencies (2,368–3,965 Hz), was agile, and could likely track prey items with ease. When viewed in conjunction with fossils that suggest scavenging-like behaviours in V. mongoliensis, a complex trophic ecology that mirrors modern predators becomes apparent. These data suggest that V. mongoliensis was an active predator that would likely scavenge depending on the age and health of the individual or during prolonged climatic events such as droughts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)861-869
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Anatomy
Volume237
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020

Keywords

  • Dinosauria
  • Dromaeosauridae
  • Theropoda
  • endosseous labyrinth
  • neuroanatomy
  • sensory anatomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Histology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology

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