Fossil evidence shows that a dinosaur included mammals in its diet

It has long been known that some early mammals coexisted with later dinosaurs. This is the second time the scientist has recorded fossil evidence that a dinosaur actually ate one of these mammals.

The dinosaur in question is Microraptor ZianusFossilized partial skeletons were excavated from a prehistoric lakebed in what is now northeast China. Microraptor was generally a feathered, carnivorous bipedal, with a length he grew to less than 1 meter (3.3 ft). They lived during the early Cretaceous period, about 125 to 122 million years ago.

This latest individual contains a mouse-sized mammalian leg within its ribcage, indicating that the appendage was in the dinosaur’s digestive tract when it died — the exact species of mammal is yet to be determined. No. The fossilized foot was noticed by Professor Hans Larsson of McGill University in Canada when he was surveying a Chinese museum collection.

It is still unknown whether Microraptor actually hunted and killed mammals, or just scavenge for the remains it came across. In any case, the only other example of such a find was when bones of an early mammal known as Symmetrodon were found in the fossilized intestine segment of a small carnivorous dinosaur. Sinosauropteryx.

Fossilized foot (middle) about 1 cm (0.4 in) long

Alex Desessi

Paleontologists already thought that Microraptor had a fairly broad diet, due to the fact that its smaller body size meant greater species diversity. In other words, Microraptor only ate animals smaller than itself, the larger dinosaurs ignored it, and there was a wide variety of species that fit the bill.

This latest discovery greatly strengthens that theory.

“There are already known Microraptor specimens that have preserved parts of fish, birds, and lizards in their bellies. This new discovery adds small mammals to their diet, and it’s important to know that these dinosaurs were opportunistic.” , suggests a picky eater,” Larson said. “Knowing that Microraptor was an all-purpose carnivore offers new perspectives on how ancient ecosystems worked and possible insights into the success of these tiny feathered dinosaurs. increase.”

the only other known

Scientists from the University of Alberta, Queen Mary University of London, Mount Mary College, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences also contributed to the research paper. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

Source: McGill University, University of Alberta via EurekAlert

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