A unique fossil implies that mammals may have killed dinosaurs for food.

BROOKLYN (Associated Press) — Some of the earliest mammals may have hunted dinosaurs for food, according to a rare discovery made in China.
The fossil depicts a species similar to a badger biting down on a tiny dinosaur with a beaked snout. In what has become known as “China’s Pompeii,” muck and debris from long-ago eruptions buried animals in their tracks, providing the perfect setting for this discovery.
A unique fossil implies that mammals may have killed dinosaurs for food.
A unique fossil implies that mammals may have killed dinosaurs for food.
A paleontologist from the University of Edinburgh who was not involved with the research remarked in an email, “It does seem like this is a prehistoric hunt, captured in stone, like a freeze frame.”
The fossil was reported on Tuesday in the journal Scientific Reports, and it displays two Cretaceous-era species.
According to the study’s author, paleontologist and Canadian Museum of Nature employee Jordan Mallon, the mammal was assaulting the dinosaur before both were swept away by the lava flow. A mammal sits atop a dinosaur, its paws clutching the reptile’s mouth and a hind leg while the animal’s fangs sink into the dinosaur’s ribs.
“I’ve never seen a fossil like this before,” Mallon said.
Another fossil found an animal that had perished with dinosaur bones in its stomach, lending credence to the theory that mammals consumed dinosaur flesh. The latest discovery, however, adds to the evidence that mammals hunted dinosaurs many times their size and not only scavenged their carcasses, as Mallon had previously suggested.
“This completely flips the conventional narrative on its head,” Brusatte added. “When we think of the Age of Dinosaurs, we usually picture a world where dinosaurs reigned supreme and small mammals hid in the shadows.”
Mallon noted that the authors of the study expressed worry about the possibility of fossil forgeries in this region before they began their work.
He said they were convinced the fossil, discovered by a farmer in 2012, was real after performing their own preparations of the skeletons and examining the rock samples, and they welcomed the examination of the relic by other experts.
According to Mallon, the larger of the two fossilized mammals is the meat-eating Repenomamus robustus. The Psittacosaurus lujiatunensis dinosaur had a beak similar to that of a parrot and was roughly the size of a medium-sized dog.
While other dinosaurs ate both plants and animals, this particular species focused on the former. Mallon speculated that, towards the end, dinosaurs were still feeding mostly on mammals.
To which I reply, “And yet we now know that the mammals were able to fight back, at least at times,” he remarked.
The Science and Educational Media Group of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute provides funding to the Associated Press Health and Science Department. All information is the exclusive responsibility of the AP.

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