The following is an excerpt from Charles Choi | August 30, 2012 | Yahoo.com |
Dinosaur fossils found with the bones of birds and small dinosaurs in their stomachs reveal the beasts may have been adept hunters capable of downing prey more than a third their own size, researchers say.
Fossils are occasionally found with the remains of animals and plants inside what were once their guts. These tummy contents can shed light on what they once ate — for instance, past research showed a mammal predator apparently had a tiny dinosaur as its last meal.
Scientists investigated two specimens of a carnivorous dinosaur from Liaoning, China, known as Sinocalliopteryx gigas. The predator was roughly the size of a wolf, about 6 feet (2 meters) long, and had feathers or hairlike fuzz covering its body to help keep it warm.
Back when this dinosaur was alive, about 120 million years ago, the area was a warm, wet forest, with a diverse fauna of dinosaurs, birds and crocodilians. “It was kind of a quintessential dinosaur environment, with lots of volcanic activity that periodically inundated the landscape and buried things within it with exquisite preservation,” said researcher Phil Bell, a vertebrate paleontologist at the Pipestone Creek Dinosaur Initiative in Canada. “Today the area is pretty much farmland, although the farmers all understand the importance of fossils and the interest they create, and a lot have turned to farming for dinosaurs.”
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