Free Newsletters - Space News - Defense Alert - Environment Report - Energy Monitor
by Staff Writers
Edmonton, Canada (SPX) Aug 31, 2012
University of Alberta researchers found evidence that a feathered, but flightless dinosaur was able to snag and consume small flying dinosaurs. The U of A paleontology team found the fossilized remains of three flying dinosaurs in the belly of a raptor-like predator called Sinocalliopteryx. Sinocalliopteryx was about two meters in length and roughly the size of a modern-day wolf.
Sinocalliopteryx's flying meals were three Confuciusornis. Confuciusornis was one of the earliest birds and had a crude version of a modern bird's skeleton and muscles. The researchers say such primitive birds were probably limited to slow take-offs and short flights.
According to the researchers, this is the first time a predator has been linked to the killing of multiple flying dinosaurs.
Scott Persons, a U of A paleontology student and research coauthor, says Sinocalliopteryx may have used stealth to stock the flyers. "Sinocalliopteryx didn't have wings or the physical tools needed to be an adept tree climber," said Persons.
Persons explains Sinocalliopteryx had feathers or hair-like fuzz covering its body creating a level of insulation that helped maintain a warm body temperature and high metabolism that required a lot of food to fuel.
"The fact that this Sinocalliopteryx had, not one, but three undigested birds in its stomach indicate it was a voracious eater and a very active hunter," said Persons.
This find was made in China's Liaoning province, and U of A researchers analyzed stomach contents of a second Sinocalliopteryx fossil discovery from that area.
The researchers identified this Sinocalliopteryx's last meal as a Sinornithosaurus, a small feathered meat-eater about the size of a house cat that may have been able to fly or glide short distances.
"Sinornithosaurus is a relative of Velociraptor which means this is the first direct evidence of a raptor becoming another predatory dinosaur's meal," said Persons.
The research was led by U of A Master's paleontology student Lida Xing. The U of A coauthors includes Tetsuto Miyashita, Michael Burns and Phil Currie. The research was published Aug. 29 in the journal PLoS ONE.
University of Alberta
Explore The Early Earth at TerraDaily.com
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement|