A plant-eating dinosaur and a badger-sized mammal were “engaged in a mortal struggle” 125 million years ago, it has been discovered.
The fossil remains, discovered in China’s Liaoning province, are believed to be one of the first evidence of mammals preying on much larger dinosaurs, about twice their size.
Researchers say their findings call into question this notion Dinosaur They roamed the Earth freely during the Cretaceous Period, about 1.45 to 66 million years ago.
Study author Dr Jordan Mullen, a paleontologist at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa, Canada, said: “These two animals were locked in a mortal struggle, tightly entangled, and this is the first time mammals have actually been shown to engage in real life on land. One piece of evidence for predation.” Dinosaurs. “
The mammal has been identified as Repenomamus roughus, a badger-like animal about 47 centimeters in length.
The stout lizard was one of the largest mammals during the Cretaceous period, when dinosaurs dominated.
Meanwhile, the dinosaur was Lujiatun Psittacosaurus, a beaked herbivore about 120 centimeters long.
Previous evidence suggests that stout lizards may have preyed on juvenile dinosaurs.
In 2005, scientists found another stout lizard fossil with the small bones of a juvenile Psittacosaurus inside its ribcage.
Dr Mullen said: “The coexistence of these two animals is nothing new, but what is new to science with this stunning fossil is the predatory behavior it exhibited.”
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Visible teeth embedded in the chest cavity
This well-preserved fossil shows that Psittacosaurus Lujiatun lay flat, face down, with hind limbs folded at the sides of the body, neck and tail curled to the left.
The stout lizard can be seen lying on top of the dinosaur’s left side, curving to the right.
The mammal’s left paw gripped the dinosaur’s lower jaw, while its left hind leg was trapped under the dinosaur’s folded left leg, and its hind paw gripped the left tibia.
The tooth of Psittacosaurus Lushi can be seen embedded in the ribcage of Psittacosaurus Lujiatun, suggesting that the dinosaur was under attack when both animals died suddenly, possibly after being caught in a mudslide following a volcanic eruption.
The researchers said the stout lizard did not feed on the Psittacosaurus Lujiatun carcass because there were no tooth marks on the dinosaur’s bones.
They also argue that if the dinosaurs had died before the mammals met them, it would be less likely that the animals became so entangled.
“Substantial Evidence of Active Attacks”
“There is overwhelming evidence that an active attack is underway,” Dr Mullen said.
He added that the mammal may have been “eaten while the dinosaurs were still alive – before both were killed in the royal incident”.