Dino in mammal's stomach?

Scientists in the US have unveiled a 130-million-year-old fossil that casts mammals in a new light.

By: MANUELA BADAWY (REUTERS)
| Updated on: Feb 02 2005, 13:33 IST

Elated scientists on Wednesday showed off a 130-million-year-old fossil that casts mammals in a new light by proving that in prehistoric times they fed on young dinosaurs.

Scientists at the American Museum of Natural History in New York unveiled the fossil of a mammal, found in Northeast China, with a baby dinosaur in its stomach.

The mammal was comparable in size and shape to a Tasmanian devil or a small dog, while the dinosaur was just a few inches long.

'The biggest surprise in this find is mammals eating dinosaurs,' said Meng Jin, associate curator in the Division of Paleontology at the museum.

'The importance of this discovery is that for the first time the stomach content

of a mammal has been preserved and that a dinosaur is in it,' Meng added. 'Mammals now finally have the chance to speak up, because dinosaurs had been the only ones in the spotlight of the Mesozoic era.'

Most mammals of the Mesozoic era, between 144 and 65 million years ago, were

the size of today's mice and rats, weighing a few pounds at most and at a distinct size disadvantage compared to the dinosaurs.

But the latest discovery shows some mammals, the Repenomamus or 'reptile mammals,' had a much greater range of body sizes than previously known, suggesting that some large mammals competed with dinosaurs for food and territory.

'MAYBE TASTY'

'This is the first ever discovery of this kind of material,' Meng said. 'Mammals finally got the chance to taste dinosaurs. So that means that dinosaurs are edible, and maybe tasty.'

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First Published Date: 14 Jan, 01:24 IST
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