Scientists claim the first discovery of a mammal eaten by a dinosaur dinosaurs

Scientists claim the first discovery of a mammal eaten by a dinosaur dinosaurs

It may have been a pressing fear for the fictional characters in the 1993 film Jurassic Park, but scientists believe they have uncovered the first known incident of a mammal being eaten by a dinosaur.

However, the 120-million-year-old fossils are not of a human ancestor, but an animal foot inside the ribcage of a small feathered dinosaur known as a microraptor.

Paleontologists said their findings, published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, are the “first record of a dinosaur eating a mammal.”

Artist’s impression issued by Queen Mary University of London of the small feathered dinosaur known as Microraptor. Photograph: Ralph Attanasia III/PA

Dr David Hone of Queen Mary University of London, who is the first author of the study, said: “It’s so rare to find examples of food inside dinosaurs, so every example is really important as it gives direct evidence of what they ate.

“While 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.

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

Microraptors lived in the ancient forests of what is now China, between 125 and 113 million years ago.

Although it moved on its two legs, experts believe that some species may have been capable of guided flight.

They were the size of crows, or small cats, and moved from tree to tree to prey on small animals.

The specimen was first described more than 20 years ago, in 2000, but researchers said the previous team had failed to see the remains of another animal inside the dinosaur.

Analysis has suggested that the prey was a mouse-sized mammal, which lived on the ground and was not a good climber.

Previous research has shown other microraptor fossils with preserved non-mammalian food in their stomachs, such as a bird, lizard or fish.

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