sábado, 26 de noviembre de 2011

Palaeontology - First bird-eating dinosaur found

Working out how dinosaurs lived involves a certain amount of speculation, for obvious reasons – but now and again some concrete proof of their lifestyles turns up. 

Reconstruction of the feeding habits of Microraptor [Credit: Brian Choo]

And a discovery by researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences recently was one such occasion. They have found stunning evidence that some dinosaurs ate birds - because they found the remains of one in the stomach of a fossilised predator in China. No guess work needed. The bones of the small bird were preserved inside the rib cage of a Microraptor gui – itself a bird-like creature. 

Photograph (A) and camera lucida drawing (B) of the new Microraptor gui specimen IVPP V17972A [Credit: Dr. ZHOU Zhonghe]

Palaeontologists have always surmised that dinosaurs enjoyed snacking on feathered animals, but this is the first proof. The fossils date back to the Cretaceous period, which makes them between 65 and 145million years old.The Microraptor’s meal was a bird from a group called Enantiornithes, now extinct. 

Close up of the abdomen of the new Microraptor; the remains of the enantiornithine bird are indicated by blue [Credit: Dr. ZHOU Zhonghe]

The findings of the researchers - Jingmai O'Connor, Zhonghe Zhou, and Xing Xu, who wrote about their discovery in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences – is also evidence that some dinosaurs lived entirely in the trees. 

This is because the bird the Microraptor ate lived in trees, so it’s likely it did too. 

 Daily Mail/UK 

Source: The Archaeology News Network

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