Tech News

Scientists find mammal’s foot in dinosaur for the first time

Scientists find mammal’s foot in dinosaur for the first time

#Scientists #find #mammals #foot #dinosaur #time Welcome to InNewCL, here is the new story we have for you today:

Click Me To View Restricted Videos

An illustration of Microraptor chewing on a mammal foot.

An illustration of Microraptor chewing on a mammal foot. Illustration: Ralph Attanasia

Paleontologists getting a second look at a species of small, four-winged dinosaur have found a fossilized mammalian foot in the predator’s stomach.

It’s the first concrete evidence that dinosaurs eat mammals, the researchers say. Specimens of the dinosaur Microraptor zhaoinus have been discovered, containing ancient birds, fish and lizards, making the mammal find just the latest known source of protein for this brave hunter. The team that reexamined the Microraptor fossil published their findings today in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

“This really shows the general diet of this small feathered dinosaur,” said Hans Larsson, a paleontologist at McGill University and the study’s lead author, in an email to Gizmodo. “Adding mammals to the menu shows how unspecialized this dinosaur was.”

The arboreal Microraptor lived during the early Cretaceous period, and specimens have been found throughout what is now northeastern China. The fossil-rich region is called the Jehol Biota, and its well-preserved treasures are a great resource for understanding nuances of dinosaur anatomy, as well as details about the ecological niches of different animals.

Microraptor is thought to have lived in trees, gliding through Cretaceous forests to forage for bites on both branches and the ground. The recently examined specimen is the holotype, meaning it was the first of its kind to be found and named. It was only recently revisited after its discovery in 2000. The new analysis revealed the mammal’s foot — a seemingly unprecedented find.

G/O Media may receive a commission

The mammalian foot (middle) in the Microraptor fossil.

The mammalian foot (middle) in the Microraptor fossil. Photo: Hans Larsson

The researchers could not identify the specific species of mammal, but the preservation of the foot in Microraptor allowed them to understand its ecological niche and, of course, its predators.

“Intestinal contents are amazing snapshots of fossil animal diets, but they are so rare that it can be difficult to determine whether the preserved ‘last meal’ represents the animal’s normal diet or a strange, one-off event that happened by luck in the fossilized fossils.” ‘ said Stephanie Drumheller-Horton, a paleontologist at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, who was not involved in the recent publication, in an email to Gizmodo.

“Microraptor is emerging as a very interesting exception to this rule, with several beautifully fossilized specimens preserving various ‘last meals’,” added Drumheller-Horton. “Taken together, the authors make compelling arguments that this small theropod was not a particularly picky eater, eating all sorts of small animals in its vicinity.”

Another illustration of Microraptor with its prey.

Another illustration of Microraptor with its prey. Illustration: Hans Larsson

The mammalian foot did not appear to belong to any distant human ancestor; The team said it bears similarities to the morphologies of Sinodelphys, Yanoconodon and Eomaia, all ancient species of early mammals that looked somewhat like possums or rodents.

The foot belonged to an animal the size of a mouse. The team’s analysis revealed that the animal would not have been a good climber – an indication that Microraptor may have occasionally dropped to the forest floor to feed.

“The foot appears to be completely intact and was therefore swallowed whole. How much of the mammal was swallowed is unknown,” Larsson said. “However, there were several other unidentified bones around the foot in the thorax, so I suspect more of this mammal was consumed.”

Researchers couldn’t determine if the animal was hunted down and killed, or if the feathered dinosaur ate its body.

Given the luck paleontologists have had with the Jehol Biota so far, it might only be a matter of time before another meal-laden specimen offers more insight into the Cretaceous food scene.

More: A shark eating a squid, eating a lobster, in a fossil

Click Here To Continue Reading From Source

Related Articles

Back to top button