Unusual fossil reveals more about the diet of Microraptor, a bird-like dinosaur with four wings — ScienceDaily

Microraptor It was an opportunistic predator, feeding on fish, birds, lizards, and now small mammals. A rare fossil find reveals that the creature was a versatile carnivore in the ancient dinosaur ecosystem.

It is rare to find the last meal of fossil animals. Professor Hans Larsson of McGill University dropped his jaw when he saw a complete mammalian leg inside the rib cage of a small, feathered dinosaur. Of the hundreds of skeletons of carnivorous dinosaurs, he is the only 20 whose last meal has been preserved. This new discovery makes 21.

“At first, I couldn’t believe it. Microraptor skeleton. These finds are the only solid evidence we have of the food consumption of these long-extinct animals, and they are extremely rare,” he said after coming across the fossils while visiting a Chinese museum’s collection. says Larsson.

Microraptor I wasn’t picky

Both arms and legs had feathers, making this dinosaur closely related to the origin of birds. Microraptor About the size of a crow, it is one of the smallest dinosaurs. The first specimens were found in sediments in Liaoning, China, in the early 2000s.

“We already know Microraptor Specimens that contain part of a fish, bird or lizard preserved in the belly. This new discovery adds small mammals to their diet and suggests that these dinosaurs were opportunists and not picky eaters,” said Professor of Biology at McGill University’s Redpath Museum. A Larson says,

“Knowing that they didn’t specialize in a particular food is a big deal,” he adds. may become. Generalist predators are important stabilizers in today’s ecosystems because they can feed among several species with different populations, like foxes and crows.

“I know Microraptor Research that they were generalist carnivores gives new perspectives on how ancient ecosystems worked and allows insight into the success of these tiny feathered dinosaurs.

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