Health Editor’s Note: As more fossils are unearthed all over this planet, we find missing pieces of the puzzle of life long before humans walked or crawled on the earth…..Carol
140 Million Years Ago, a Bird-Like Dinosaur Swallowed a Lizard Whole. Here’s Why Its Final Meal Is Exciting Researchers
by Jason Daley Smithsonian.com
About 140 million years ago a microraptor—a bird-like dinosaur with four feathered wings—was zipping around in what is today northeastern China when it found a snack. The little dino grabbed a lizard and swallowed it whole, head first. Then, soon after, it died, likely on the edge of a mucky lake, which preserved the creature and its last meal for eons.
The intertwined fossils were discovered in the Jehol biota, a fossil bed from the Cretaceous era with some of the best-preserved records of species interacting and gobbling one another up. The hapless lizard that the Microraptor zhaoianus snacked on has paleontologists particularly excited; a new species, called Indrasaurus wangi, after the goddess Indra who was swallowed by a dragon, has teeth different from any other Cretaceous lizard, meaning it likely had a unique diet. The fossil is analyzed in the journal Current Biology.
Both diner and dinner are helping researchers piece together the complex food web of Jehol, reports Michael Greshko at National Geographic. Over the last two decades, 20 similar finds of animals with their stomach contents still intact have helped researchers begin to understand exactly who was nomming on whom around the ancient lake.