I've mentioned the diminuitive microraptorine Microraptor gui in a previous post. This little dromaeosaur has provided an enormous amount of information on not only the evolution of feathers and flight in non-avian dinosaurs, but it has revealed startling clues about its own habits. Like most other dromaeosaurs, M. gui was a predator, likely feeding on mammals, insects, and other small prey. In 2011, a specimen of M. gui was found with the fragments of bird bones in its stomach, indicating that it was an adept aerial hunter capable of taking out smaller, feathery prey on the wing (O'Connor et. al, 2011). This specimen revealed that Microraptor was, definitively, an arboreal hunter. However, just last week, another specimen of Microraptor revealed something even more surprising.
|The new specimen of Microraptor. The preserved fish scales can be seen in the magnifying glass. Photograph by Scott Persons.|
|Microraptor eating a fish. Whether the specimen hunted the fish or was scavenging remains uncertain. Reconstruction by Emily Willoughby.|
|Microraptor gui feeding on a cycad. Reconstruction by Emily Willoughby.|
O’Connor, Jingmai, Zhonghe Zhou, and Xing Xu. 2011. “Additional Specimen of Microraptor Provides Unique Evidence of Dinosaurs Preying on Birds.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (November 21). doi:10.1073/pnas.1117727108. http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2011/11/17/1117727108.
Xing, Lida, W. Scott Persons, Phil R. Bell, Xing Xu, Jianping Zhang, Tetsuto Miyashita, Fengping Wang, and Philip J. Currie. 2013. “Piscivory in the Feathered Dinosaur Microraptor.” Evolution: n/a–n/a. doi:10.1111/evo.12119.