It’s a fascinating record. Paleontologists present it in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. And it’s the first known case in history. What did they find? The dinosaur fossil eating a mammal.
Evidence of its feeding
It is about 120 million years old. It is a small micro-raptor, a feathered dinosaur. It has the foot of an animal inside its rib cage. Dr. David Hone, of Queen Mary University of London, said, “It’s very rare to find examples of food inside dinosaurs. It gives direct evidence of what they were eating.”
This mammal is not a human ancestor. But we can remember that some of our ancient relatives were dinosaur food. “This study portrays a fascinating moment in time. The dinosaur fossil eating a mammal is the first of its kind,” Hone added.
Microraptors lived in the ancient forests of what is now China between 125 and 113 million years ago. They moved on their two legs. It is believed that some species were capable of flight. They were the size of a crow or a small cat. Micro-raptors would have glided from tree to tree to hunt small animals.
Although the specimen was first described in 2000, the researchers noted that the previous team had failed to see remains of another animal inside the dinosaur. Further analysis suggests that the prey was a mouse-sized mammal, which probably lived on the ground and was not a good climber.
Previous research has shown other Microraptor specimens with food preserved in the stomach. For example, a bird, a lizard and a fish. They may have fed directly on these animals or perhaps just scavenged them.
The authors of the study explained the case. They stated, “It was of domestic size, perhaps like a cat. Micro-raptor would have been an animal that would have been easy to live with. But it was a terror if it got out. It wanted to hunt everything from the birds at your feeder to the mice in your hedge to the fish in your pond.”