Scientists believe they have discovered the first case of a mammal being eaten by a dinosaur.
The leg of an animal that lived 120 million years ago has been found inside the ribcage of a dinosaur, shedding light on the diet of prehistoric creatures.
Paleontologists in the UK analyzed the fossils of a small feathered dinosaur, known as a microraptor, and discovered that it appeared to have eaten a small mammal the size of an animal. mouse.
The scientists say the find, published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, is “the first record for a dinosaur that ate mammals”.
Microraptor is about the size of a small cat or a crow and can glide from tree to tree to hunt small animals.
Dr David Hone, from Queen Mary University of London, first author of the study, said: “It is very rare to find examples of food inside dinosaurs, so every example is really important. as it provides direct evidence of what they ate.
“Although this mammal is not a human ancestor at all, we can look back to some of our ancient relatives as a meal for hungry dinosaurs.
“This study paints a picture of a fascinating moment in time – the first recorded record of a dinosaur eating a mammal – even if it’s not as terrifying as anything in the Cochinchina. Jurassic Stone.”
Study co-author Dr Alex Dececchi, from Mount Marty University in the US, added: “The great thing is that – like your domestic cat, which is about the same size – the microraptor would be an easy-going animal. but it’s terrifying if it gets out, because it will hunt everything from the birds in your feeder to the rats in your fence or the fish in your pond.”
Microraptor lived in the ancient forests of China today, about 125 to 113 million years ago.
While it moves on two legs, experts believe that some species may be capable of guided flight.
The fossil in question was first analyzed in 2000, but the researchers said the previous team had not seen the remains of another animal inside the dinosaur.
Microraptor specimens have previously been found with food preserved in their stomachs, such as birds, lizards and fish. However, the researchers say it remains unclear whether dinosaurs hunted these animals or found them dead and picked up their carcasses.