Scientists have discovered the first physical evidence of a dinosaur eating a mammal and no, before you ask, it wasn’t a human. And yes, before you tell me, I know humans and dinosaurs never overlapped in the history of Earth but I’m still sad about it.
UK palaeontologists sussed out the unlucky critter thanks to a preserved body part in the fossil of a wee feathery dino called Microraptor zhaoianus. I’ll give you one guess about the body part in question.
Did you guess foot? If so, ding ding ding ding ding to you.
According to the study — which was published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology — it’s usually pretty hard to identify the gut contents of dinos. They’re also super rare in the fossil record, which shows the development of life on Earth through fossils.
It turns out the Microraptor also chowed down on birds, fish and lizards. I wonder if the dinos had a preference: I can see the scenes of baby dinos complaining about having fish for dinner again.
You’d be absolutely chomping at the bit for a wee mousey snack.
I must also say, Microraptor is an adorable name for a dino. I’m picturing a simply delightful teeny tiny creature going absolutely ham on some poor prehistoric rodent. Aw.
The dinos were found in ancient China around 125 million to 113 million years ago, AKA the Cretaceous period if you never left your dinosaur phase.
New paper out today – Microraptor ate mammals! https://t.co/CcMZSRO60l Art by the awesome @AttaBoyRalph pic.twitter.com/GXOd98ggN6
— Dr Dave Hone (@Dave_Hone) December 21, 2022
Study author Dr David Hone from Queen Mary University of London explained it was super rare to find examples of food inside dinos.
“Every example is really important as it gives direct evidence of what they were eating,” he said, per The Guardian.
“While this mammal would absolutely not have been a human ancestor, we can look back at some of our ancient relatives being a meal for hungry dinosaurs.
“This study paints a picture of a fascinating moment in time — the first record of a dinosaur eating a mammal — even if it isn’t quite as frightening as anything in Jurassic Park.”
The rats are going to hate this announcement. But the rats don’t run the Cretaceous period.
Well, there ya have it: dinosaurs seemingly loved a little mammalian snack. And while I’d love an IRL Jurassic Park which isn’t run by A) evil corporations or B) megalomaniac billionaires, I’m now feeling mighty revealed I’m not a warm-blooded potential dino snack.