Well-sampled dinosaur communities from the Jurassic through the early Late Cretaceous show greater taxonomic diversity among larger (>50 kg) theropod taxa than communities of the Campano-Maastrichtian, particularly to those of eastern/central Asia and Laramidia. The large carnivore guilds in Asiamerican assemblages are monopolized by tyrannosaurids, with adult medium-sized (50–500 kg) predators rare or absent. In contrast, various clades of theropods are found to occupy these body sizes in earlier faunas, including early tyrannosauroids. Assemblages with “missing middle-sized” predators are not found to have correspondingly sparser diversity of potential prey species recorded in these same faunas. The “missing middle-sized” niches in the theropod guilds of Late Cretaceous Laramidia and Asia may have been assimilated by juvenile and subadults of tyrannosaurid species, functionally distinct from their adult ecomorphologies. It is speculated that if tyrannosaurids assimilated the niches previously occupied by mid-sized theropod predators, we would expect the evolution of distinct transitions in morphology and possibly the delay of the achievement of somatic maturity in species of this taxon.
Theropod guild structure and the tyrannosaurid niche assimilation hypothesis: implications for predatory dinosaur macroecology and ontogeny in later Late Cretaceous Asiamerica1
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Thomas R. Holtz; Theropod guild structure and the tyrannosaurid niche assimilation hypothesis: implications for predatory dinosaur macroecology and ontogeny in later Late Cretaceous Asiamerica1. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 2021;; 58 (9): 778–795. doi: https://doi.org/10.1139/cjes-2020-0174
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