Saturday, February 4, 2023

Dinosaurs – a mammal’s foot found in a dinosaur’s stomach 100 million years ago

Paleontologists studying the fossil of a small four-winged dinosaur have found a fossilized mammoth leg in the predator’s stomach.

Now that we’ve grasped that there were feathered, more bird-like dinosaurs, we now, according to researchers, have solid evidence that these dinosaurs ate mammals. Small dinosaur specimens have been discovered microraptor zhaoinus Inside which were ancient birds, fish and lizards, but the mammal discovery is the last known source of protein for this intrepid hunter. The team from McGill University in Canada that studied the Microraptor fossil publishes its findings today in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

Microraptor lived in the early Cretaceous, about 100 million years ago, and specimens have been found in what is now northeastern China. The fossil-rich area is called the Jehol Biota, and its fossils are a great resource for understanding the nuances of well-preserved dinosaur anatomy, as well as details about the ecological niches of various animals.

Microraptor is thought to have lived in trees, moving through Cretaceous forests in search of prey, both on branches and on the ground. The most recently studied specimen is the holotype, meaning it was the first of its species to be found and named in the year 2000. However, it has recently been studied again and new analysis has revealed that it has mammalian legs on its abdomen, an unprecedented discovery.

Detail Of A Mammal'S Leg Inside A Microraptor Fossil.

Detail of a mammal’s leg inside a Microraptor fossil. Photo: Hans Larsen

The researchers were unable to identify the specific species of mammal that Microraptor ate, but its preservation allowed them to understand its ecological niche and, in this case, its predators. The team said it had morphological similarities to Cynodelphis, Yanoconodon and Eomia, all ancient species of primitive mammals that were roughly similar to opossums or rodents, and was about the size of a modern mouse.

Gut content gives a lot of information about the diet of fossil animals, but it is rarely well preserved, and it is also difficult to ascertain whether a preserved “last meal” was part of the animal’s normal diet or a rare and unique one. Whether or not it represents an event that was lucky enough to become fossilized.

Microraptor appears to be a very interesting exception to that rule, with many beautifully fossilized specimens retaining a distinct ‘last meal’, which is to say it wasn’t particularly palatable, eating everything in sight. .

The team’s analysis found that the victim was not a good climber, indicating that Microraptor may have occasionally descended to the forest floor to feed. The leg appears intact, so we know it was swallowed whole.

Reference

normal diet of microraptor zhaoyanus mammals are included

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