Millions of years ago, a feathered predatory dinosaur preyed on an unfortunate small mammal the size of a modern-day shrew.
Almost everyone knows the famous images from the movie Jurassic Park, where terrifying characters are haunted by terrifying dinosaurs. However, whether dinosaurs actually had mammals on the menu has been unclear for a long time. So far. Researchers have discovered the remains of a small mammal in the belly of a feathered dinosaur. This makes the images from Jurassic Park perhaps a little less fantastic.
In the study, the researchers pored over the remains of a feathered dinosaur known as microraptor. microraptor It is a famous crow-sized dinosaur. The animal had four wings and may have floated from tree to tree. microraptors It lived about 120 million years ago, during the early Cretaceous period, in an ancient forest region of modern China.
Incidentally, this isn’t the first time researchers have discussed the remains microraptor bows. The specimen in question was first described in 2000. But now, excited researchers have discovered something everyone has overlooked: the remains of another animal preserved between the ribs. “It’s very rare to find food in a dinosaur’s body,” researcher David Hone said. “So each specimen is very important because it provides direct evidence of what exactly the dinosaur ate.”
After a more thorough analysis, it turned out to be the eaten leg of a mammal, which was the size of a modern-day shrew. Bones indicate that this animal lived mainly on the ground and was not a good climber. Perhaps this is also the reason for the Predator microraptor It targeted and unexpectedly swallowed this unfortunate creature.
In addition, the results indicate that microraptors It was a very varied diet. Previous studies have already shown that this dinosaur ate birds, lizards and fish. Now that the researchers have also found evidence of A microraptor Whoever ate mammals, there seems no doubt that, when it came to its diet, this dinosaur was not a picky eater and simply ate what was available.
Hunter or scavenger?
At the moment it is still not clear whether microraptor He hunted his prey, or found it already dead. The researchers hypothesize that it could also be a combination of the two. Remarkably, the mammal detected in the abdomen is exactly the size of the prey where the size of the predator is microraptor Targeting can be.
This discovery is a milestone. For the first time, researchers have found compelling evidence that dinosaurs ate mammals. “Although the discovered mammals are certainly not ancestral to humans, it now appears that some of our ancient relatives served as a snack for hungry dinosaurs,” says Hone. “We now know for sure that some dinosaurs ate mammals, although our finding is less frightening than the picture Jurassic Park paints.”
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