Microraptor: A 4-Winged, Fish-Eating Dinosaur
by Nadia Drake
Fossilized guts reveal that Microraptor — a four-winged, flying dinosaur — had an unusual taste for fish. Located near the fossil’s ribs, a mass of fish bones bearing the mark of strong digestive acids suggests the crow-sized reptile’s prey veered from the arboreal to the aquatic.
“There are only two other good examples of dinosaurs with a taste for sushi: the giant, crocodile-like spinosaurs and the tiny compsognathids,” said Scott Persons, from the University of Alberta. “So, no. Fish are not usually considered as staples of a dino’s diet.”
Previous analyses of Microraptor specimens pointed toward prey retrieved from trees: small mammals and birds. But a new analysis, reported Apr. 19 by Persons and colleagues in the journal Evolution, suggests the dinosaur feasted on fish as well. The team based its conclusions on specimen QM V1002, retrieved from northeastern China in an area thought to have been a forested, freshwater lake environment 120 million years ago. Nearly complete, though with a badly crushed skull, the fossil bears traces of the long, dark feathers that have come to distinguish Microraptor. Among the preserved bones and feathers is a lump of bony fish bits that includes fin rays, ribs, vertebrae, and bits of acid-etched fish skull…
(read more: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2013/04/microraptor-ate-fish/?cid=co7367514)
(photo: Scott Parsons; illustration by the INCREDIBLY TALENTED Emily Willoughby - http://ewilloughby.tumblr.com/ ;)