Small mammals were feeding on the carcasses of dinosaurs are in the Jurassic period. This is the conclusion reached by the team of paleontologists, after analyzing the damage on the rib of a sauropod found in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous region of China. As noted in an article for the journal The Science of Nature, it is the oldest direct evidence of the diet of mammals.
Mesozoic mammals is often compared to shrews. It is argued that, like these insectivores, they were very small, secretive, and ate mostly invertebrates. This is only partly true: although the average weight of a Mesozoic mammal was about one hundred grams, recent findings indicate that these creatures even before the extinction of the dinosaurs occupied the various ecological niches, from water inhabitants to forest glider type flying squirrels.
Unfortunately, to judge the power of ancient mammals scientists have mostly circumstantial evidence, such as the structure of the teeth. Direct evidence is limited to one fossilized stomach contents of the early Cretaceous and the traces of bites on the bones of the late Cretaceous.
A team of researchers led by Augustine Felix (Felix J. Augustin) from the University of Tubingen decided to find more information on the diet of mammals of the Mesozoic era. They focused on a fragment of a cervical rib of a dinosaur-sauropods of the family Mamenchisauridae, which was discovered in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous region of China and is related to the second half of the Jurassic period (approximately 160 million years ago).
On the surface the fossilized bones clearly visible signs of damage, but where they came from, remained unclear. The authors ‘ analysis showed that they were hardly left stepped on a bone of a dinosaur or insects. Most likely, it traces the paired incisors of a mammal from the whole diverse fauna that inhabited the area in the late Jurassic, only they had the appropriate teeth.
The bone damage to size coincide with the cutter mammal Sineleutherus uyguricus, which was discovered in the same area as the fragment of a cervical rib of a dinosaur. However, we cannot exclude other suspects — four species of mammals, which theoretically could leave traces on the bone. Unfortunately, their tools have yet been found.
Of course, small mammals hunted monsters. However, they could from time to time to vary the diet of insects to feed on the carcasses of dead or killed by predators giants. The authors believe that the mark on the bones of sauropods in Xinjiang. And the ancient scavenger, hardly chews the bone: most likely, he left footprints on it when I obsesiva soft tissue.
Recently, paleontologists discovered the remains of prey of allosaurus theropod with teeth marks of representatives of the same or similar species. This suggests that allosaurus was cannibalism: chews the bones of fallen relatives or even hunted them for lack of food.
Sergey Knee High