The bone of a large flying reptile has been found in the gut of a Velociraptor, sparking fresh discussion among palaeontologists.
Velociraptors have previously been described as “hyper predators”.
However, scientists suggest this pterosaur was too large to be the Velociraptor’s intended prey but could have been scavenged.
The findings are published in the journal Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, and Palaeoecology.
An international team of scientists revealed the drama of 75 million years ago with a detailed analysis of the skeleton found in the Gobi desert, Mongolia.
"It would be difficult and probably even dangerous for the small theropod dinosaur to target a pterosaur with a wingspan of 2 metres or more, unless the pterosaur was already ill or injured," said co-author of the study Dr David Hone, from the University College Dublin, Ireland.
"So the pterosaur bone we’ve identified in the gut of the Velociraptor was most likely scavenged from a carcass rather than the result of a predatory kill.”
Velociraptors were not much taller than domestic turkeys but were thought to be voracious predators.
Fantastic find! After having a very dino-fuelled weekend with palaeontologists talking about things like the process of digesting, biomechanics, hunting/scavenging, and nasal/airflow construction, I love reading about the last meals of carnivores (which was also discussed). It’s a rare and amazing find when fossils like this come up because it gives us great insight into their feeding lifestyles, what they ate, what could this now mean about this dinosaur, etc. Palaeontology’s amazing because it’s like an epic mystery novel; piecing together data and evidence that are over 65 million years old couldn’t get any cooler.
Velociraptors are awesome…