Journal of Iberian Geology

, Volume 43, Issue 2, pp 193–215 | Cite as

Isolated theropod teeth associated with sauropod remains from El Oterillo II (Early Cretaceous) site of Salas de los Infantes (Burgos, Spain)

  • A. Alonso
  • J. I. Canudo
  • F. Torcida Fernández-Baldor
  • P. Huerta
Research Article



The relationship between dinosaur carcasses and isolated theropod teeth is well known in the fossil record. The usual explanation is that theropod dinosaurs fed on the herbivore carcass. Other evidence is provided by theropod tooth marks on the surface of herbivore skeletal remains. In this work we study isolated theropod teeth and the tooth marks in evidence on the bones of the sauropod from El Oterillo II (Salas de los Infantes, Spain, Lower Cretaceous). Theropod and crocodylomorph teeth have been found in relationship with the sauropod carcass. The fossils lie on channel lag deposits composed of sandstones with quartzite gravel.

Materials and methods

Thirty theropod teeth have been studied using qualitative features, statistical and cladistics analysis in addition to the tooth marks present on the vertebrae.


The morphology of the theropod teeth has revealed greater palaeobiodiversity in these faunas than previously known, including baryonychine spinosaurids, basal tetanurans, dromaeosaurids and a singular coelurosaurian. The presence of tooth marks and isolated theropod teeth in close relationship with the sauropod carcass could also provide new evidence of the scavenging of theropod dinosaurs on the sauropods of this age and location.


Six morphotypes of theropod teeth have been distinguished; the combination of basal and derived tetanurans is congruent with the known record from the Early Cretaceous of the Iberian Peninsula. The most probable explanation for the association of isolated theropod teeth and sauropod remains is the scavenging of the carcass by theropod dinosaurs.


Lower Cretaceous Sauropoda Theropoda Teeth Palaeocology Spain 



La relación entre carcasas de dinosaurios herbívoros y dientes aislados de terópodos es conocida en el registro fósil. La explicación más habitual es la alimentación de los dinosaurios terópodos de la carcasa del dinosaurio herbívoro. Otras evidencias de predación o carroñeo provienen de las marcas de dientes preservadas en diferentes partes de los huesos de los dinosaurios herbívoros. En este trabajo se estudian los dientes aislados de dinosaurios terópodos y las marcas de dientes encontradas en los huesos del saurópodo de Oterillo II (Salas de los Infantes, España, Cretácico Inferior). Estos dientes, además de crocodilomorfos se han encontrado en relación con la carcasa del saurópodo. Los restos fósiles aparecen en el fondo de un relleno de canal constituido por areniscas con cantos cuarcíticos de tamaño grava.

Materiales y métodos

Se han estudiado 30 dientes aislados de terópodos utilizando caracteres cualitativos, análisis estadístico y análisis cladístico, junto a las marcas de dientes presentes en las vértebras del saurópodo.


La morfología de los dientes de terópodo ha revelado una mayor paleobiodiversidad de estas faunas de lo conocido previamente, incluyendo espinosáuridos barioniquinos, tetanuros basales, dromeosáuridos y un singular coelurosaurio. Además, la existencia de marcas de dientes y dientes aislados en relación con la carcasa de saurópodo puede suponer una nueva evidencia del carroñeo de dinosaurios terópodos en saurópodos para esta edad en la peninsula ibérica.


Se han distinguido seis morfotipos de dientes de terópodo; la combinación de tetanuros basales y derivados es congruente con el registro fósil conocido en el Cretácico Inferior de la peninsula ibérica. La explicación más probable de la asociación de dientes aislados de terópodos y los restos de saurópodo es el carroñeo de la carcasa por parte de los dinosaurios terópodos.

Palabras clave

Cretácico Inferior Sauropoda Theropoda Dientes Paleoecología España 



This paper forms part of project CGL2014-53548 and is subsidized by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, the European Regional Development Fund and the Government of Aragón (Grupos Consolidados). Antonio Alonso is the recipient of a PhD grant from the DGA (Diputación General de Aragón). The fieldwork on the site was financed by the “Dirección General de Patrimonio de la Junta de Castilla y León” and the “Fundación para el estudio de los dinosaurios de Castilla y León”. The authors thank the Museo de los Dinosaurios of Salas de los Infantes and the Colectivo Arqueológico y Paleontológico de Salas (C.A.S.) for the help provided. The authors thank J.I. Canale and A. Torices for the critiques that resulted in substantial improvements to the manuscript, and Rupert Glasgow, who edited the text in English.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (XLSX 867 kb)
41513_2017_17_MOESM2_ESM.docx (46 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 45 kb)


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Grupo Aragosaurus-IUCA, Área de Paleontología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de ZaragozaZaragozaSpain
  2. 2.Museo de Ciencias Naturales de la Universidad de ZaragozaZaragozaSpain
  3. 3.Colectivo Arqueológico y Paleontológico de Salas (C.A.S.), Museo de DinosauriosBurgosSpain

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