COLUMBIA, Mo. --- The drill holes left in fossil shells by hunters such as snails and slugs show marine predators have grown steadily bigger and more powerful over time but stuck to picking off small prey, rather than using their added heft to pursue larger quarry, new research shows.
Researchers who study evidence of predatory behavior in the fossil record generally look for drill holes, repair scars, bite marks, and other signs of predation in fossilized skeletons. But a team of researchers at the University of Missouri has found fossil “snapshots” of predators caught in the act of feeding on their prey. Assistant Professor of Geological Sciences Jim Schiffbauer says predation is a significant factor in evolution, and this discovery represents one of the earliest examples of sophisticated predatory behavior.