Building Better Skull Models For Ancient Carnivores main content.

Can Skull Shape and Function Determine What Kind of Food was on Prehistoric Plates?

Shape-function plot

When paleontologists put together a life history for a long-extinct animal, it’s common to infer the foods it ate by looking at modern animals with similar skull shapes and tooth patterns. But this practice is far from foolproof. New modeling and tests based on living species done at the American Museum of Natural History show that the link between animal diets and skull biomechanics is complex, with a stronger influence from ancestry than previously thought.