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Dinosaur Study Brings New Meaning to ‘Family Dinner’

Ask a dinosaur what’s for lunch, and the answer may well have been “My cousin.”

Based on new evidence found recently in Madagascar, scientists now think some dinosaurs were cannibals, ready and willing to dine on their own kind.

“We describe a sample of tooth-marked dinosaur bone recovered from three well-documented localities of Madagascar,” the three researchers report in a study published last week. Tooth marks on the old bones came from a creature called Majungatholus atopus, and the bones are, indeed, the remains of M. atopus.

“The fossil evidence is compelling and unprecedented,” said geologist Raymond Rogers, from Macalester College in Minnesota. “We’ve never seen fossil material quite like this” in other dinosaur bone-piles.

Rogers, with paleontologists David Krause at Stony Brook University and Kristina Curry Rogers at the Science Museum of Minnesota, reported the discovery in the journal Nature.

Krause said that “once we recognized the tooth marks for what they are, it didn’t take much sleuthing to eliminate any other potential candidates” as the diner. “None of the other similarly sized carnivorous species have the size, spacing and eruption patterns” in their teeth to make such marks.

Better Outlook Expected For AOL Time Warner

Cost savings and an improved subscriber mix have lifted prospects for beaten-down AOL Time Warner, although no quick turnaround is expected at its struggling America Online division, analysts say.

The media giant’s stock price gained 5.3 percent, or 61 cents per share, to close at $12.16 Monday after some key analysts turned more positive on the company’s outlook despite continued concerns.

“We believe the potential for negative earnings revisions is limited for 2003, although we continue to have concerns regarding AOL’s long-term earnings stability,” Morgan Stanley analysts Richard Bilotti and Mary Meeker wrote in a report upgrading their stock rating by a notch.

They predict America Online will lose about 1.5 million subscribers in the United States this year, dropping to a total of 25 million.

“We anticipate the majority of these subscriber declines to represent nonpaying and deep-discounted subscribers that produce negative profit margins,” Bilotti and Meeker said.

The focus on more profitable subscribers reflects a strategy long used by Time Inc., another division of AOL Time Warner, whose former chief executive now oversees America Online. “The imprint of Don Logan is clearly visible,” the analysts said.

They said the planned initial public offering of stock in Time Warner Cable or the possible sale of the company’s 50-percent stake in Court TV or Comedy Central could provide a $2-billion cushion.