Fossil Record 21(1): 55-66, doi: 10.5194/fr-21-55-2018
Eggs for breakfast? Analysis of a probable mosasaur biting trace on the Cretaceous echinoid Echinocorys ovata Leske, 1778
expand article infoChristian Neumann, Oliver Hampe§
‡ Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, Germany§ Museum für Naturkunde – Leibniz-Institut für Evolutions- und Biodiversitätsforschung, 10115 Berlin, Germany
Open Access

Fossil biting traces (praedichnia) represent indirect evidence of predationand shed light on fossil predator–prey interactions and fossil food webs.Especially from echinoderm skeletons, biting traces are well known. Here, wedescribe the oral surface of a large Cretaceous (Maastrichtian) holasteroidechinoid Echinocorys ovata Leske, 1778 from Hemmoor (northern Germany) which exhibitsfour circular punctures arranged in a semi-circular arc. Whereasthree of the punctures penetrated the skeleton, one puncture only just hitthe margin of the echinoid test at the ambitus, leaving a long incisionfurrow in the skeleton. The punctures were not lethal to the sea urchin as isindicated by progressed skeletal regeneration and closure of the fractures.The overall appearance of the punctures suggests that they were producedduring a single mechanical event, most likely by the biting action of theteeth of a large vertebrate animal. We analysed the shape and arrangement ofthe biting trace and conclude that it was probably produced by a marinereptile possessing a prognath tooth position, most likely by a globidensinemosasauroid. Our finding not only sheds light on mosasaur feeding behaviourand prey selection but also increases the knowledge of the food webs in the chalk seaecosystem during the uppermost Cretaceous.