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Inferred vertebrate bite marks on an Early Cretaceous unionoid bivalve from Lightning Ridge, New South Wales, Australia
An opalized unionoid bivalve bearing potential vertebrate bite marks is described from Lower Cretaceous nonmarine deposits of Lightning Ridge, New South Wales, Australia. Damage to the shell includes a series of regularly spaced indentations with associated depression fracturing and some surface crushing. These injuries are consistent with vertebrate feeding traces reported on other fossil molluscs (cephalopods) and suggest that a bivalve-eating predator might have been present in the Lightning Ridge palaeofauna. The size and spacing of the apparent tooth marks closely match the dental morphology of several sympatric vertebrate taxa: large osteichthyan or chondrichthyan fish, crocodiles, and pliosauroid plesiosaurs. The feasibility of these and other vertebrates as potential causes of the pathologies is discussed.
Bivalve specimen (LRF800) bearing potential vertebrate bite marks. A, Valve surface showing indentations (circles and bold outline) with enlargements (white squares; see text for dimensions) and surface crushing (dashed lines). B, Opposing valve surface with surface cracking (dashed lines). C, Commissural view of bivalve showing position of indentations (circled) with reconstructed arrangement of vertebrate teeth, and degree of deformation of opposing valve (original position reconstructed with white dashed line).
KEAR, B.P. & GODTHELP, H., March, 2008. Inferred vertebrate bite marks on an Early Cretaceous unionoid bivalve from Lightning Ridge, New South Wales, Australia. Alcheringa 32, 65-71. ISSN 0311-5518.