Rare evidence discovered that dinosaurs feasted on mammals

Rare evidence discovered that dinosaurs feasted on mammals

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Sometime in the Cretaceous period, 120 million years ago, a dinosaur ate its last meal: a small mouse-sized mammal. And it’s still there.

An investigator with a spotted sharp eye the mammal foot preserved inside the guts of a fossilized Microraptor zhaoianus, a feathered therapod less than a meter (3 feet) long.

“At first, I couldn’t believe it. There was a small, rodent-like mammal foot about a centimeter (0.4 inches) long perfectly preserved inside a Microraptor skeleton,” said Hans Larsson, professor of biology at McGill University’s Redpath Museum in Montreal Larsson came across the fossil while visiting museum collections in China.

“These findings are the only solid evidence we have of food consumption by these long-extinct animals, and they are exceptionally rare,” Larsson said in a press release.

The research, which was published in Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology on Dec. 20, said that this was only the 21st known example of a fossilized dinosaur with its last meal preserved.

It is even rarer to find that a mammal was on the menu; there is currently only one other example in the fossil record.

“We already know of specimens of Microraptor preserved with parts of a fish, a bird and a lizard in their stomachs. This new find adds a small mammal to their diet, suggesting that these dinosaurs were opportunists and not picky eaters,” he said. said Larsson, co-author of the study, in a statement.

“Knowing that Microraptor was a generalist carnivore puts a new perspective on how ancient ecosystems may have worked and a possible insight into the success of these small feathered dinosaurs,” he explained.

Generalist predators, such as foxes and crows, are important stabilizers of today’s ecosystems because they can feed on a variety of species, according to the release. According to the research, Microraptor is the first known example of a generalist carnivore in the age of the dinosaurs.

It was possible that other dinosaurs of the therapod family, which included the Tyrannosaurus Rexcould also have shared a similarly simple diet, the study said.

The Microraptor fossil was discovered in the rich fossil deposits of Liaoning, northeastern China, in the early 2000s. The specimen, which features feathering on its arm wings and legs, was one of the earliest dinosaurs with feathers that were discovered.

“Although this mammal would absolutely not have been a human ancestor, we can look back at some of our ancient relatives as food for hungry dinosaurs,” said study co-author Dr. David Hone, reader in zoology at Queen Mary University of London, said in a statement.

“This study paints a picture of a fascinating moment in time, one of the first records of a dinosaur eating a mammal, even if it’s not as terrifying as anything in ‘Jurassic Park.'”

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