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Early mammal ate dinosaurs??

Old 01-12-05, 02:16 PM
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Early mammal ate dinosaurs??

At least some early mammals were bigger and tougher than previously believed.
http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories...MPLATE=DEFAULT
Villagers digging in China's rich fossil beds have uncovered the preserved remains of a tiny dinosaur in the belly of a mammal, a startling discovery for scientists who have long believed early mammals couldn't possibly attack and eat a dinosaur.

Scientists say the animal's last meal probably is the first proof that mammals hunted small dinosaurs some 130 million years ago. It contradicts conventional evolutionary theory that early mammals were timid, chipmunk-sized creatures that scurried in the looming shadow of the giant reptiles.

In this case, the mammal was about the size of a large opossum, and the victim was a 5-inch "parrot dinosaur."

A second mammal fossil found at the same site claims the distinction of being the largest early mammal ever found. It's about the size of a modern dog, a breathtaking 20 times larger than most mammals living in the early Cretaceous Period.

Considering the specimens in tandem, scientists suggest the period in which these animals lived may have been much different than is commonly understood as the Age of Dinosaurs - a time dominated by long-necked, 85-ton plant-eaters and the emergence of terrifying theropod hunters with bladelike teeth and sickle claws.

It appears that at least some smaller dinosaurs had to look over their shoulders for snarling, meat-eating mammals claiming the same turf.

"This new evidence gives us a drastically new picture," said paleontologist Meng Jin of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, a co-author of the study in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature.

Other scientists who did not work on the bones described the discoveries as "exhilarating."

"This size range really has surprised everybody," said Zhexi Luo of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, who digs in the same area of northeast China. "It dispels the conventional wisdom."

The fossils were found more than two years ago in Liaoning province. The specimens were taken to a Beijing lab, where they were cleaned and analyzed by Chinese and American scientists.

The dinosaur-eater belongs to a species called Repenomamus robustus, known previously from skull fragments.

This squat, toothy specimen is more complete; lying on its side, it measures a little less than 2 feet long, and probably weighed about 15 pounds.

On R. robustus' left side and under the ribs in the location of its stomach are the fragmented remains of a very young Psittacosaurus.

This common, fast-moving plant-eater is known as the "parrot dinosaur" because it had a small head with a curved, horny beak. Its arms were much shorter than its legs. Adults grew to be 6 feet long, but the one that was devoured was just 5 inches.

The remains still are recognizable, indicating that R. robustus ripped its prey like a crocodile, but probably had not developed the ability to chew food like more advanced mammals.

"We can still see articulated limb bones," Meng said. "It must have swallowed food in large hunks without being chewed."

The larger, second fossil also is a Repenomamus, but considerably larger. It measures more than 3 feet long and probably weighed more than 30 pounds. Scientists have named it R. giganticus.

It weighed 20 times more than most of the 290 known early mammal species, Meng said. Its head is 50 percent larger than R. robustus and its body was larger than some dinosaurs living in the region.

Being so much larger means that R. giganticus probably behaved differently than most other early mammals, which ate insects and seeds. A larger mammal could roam and hunt aggressively, preying on young dinosaurs.

"Giganticus is in a league by itself," Luo said. "It's the world champion so far for body mass in any Mesozoic mammal."

This new class of predatory mammals has set off new speculation.

Originally, scientists believed that mammals remained small because larger dinosaurs were hunting them. Only after dinosaurs went extinct by 65 million years ago did surviving mammals begin to grow larger, they reasoned.

Now, the presence of larger mammals is reversing some of the speculation. The Liaoning region already is famous for its trove of small feathered dinosaurs and early birds.

"Maybe small dinosaurs got larger - or got off the ground - to avoid rapacious mammals," wonders Duke University paleontologist Anne Weil.

Equally mysterious is how these specimens died in the same area at the same time. Neither show evidence of being hunted themselves.

The Yixian rock formation in which their bones were encased was a combination of river sediments and volcanic ash called tuff. The formation also includes the fossils of insects, frogs and other creatures, suggesting a mass die-off.

"It's possible that poisonous volcanic gas killed the animals when they were sleeping," Meng said. "Then there was a catastrophic explosion that buried the whole thing."
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Old 01-12-05, 02:17 PM
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Of course. Haven't you ever seen The Flintstones?
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Old 01-12-05, 02:18 PM
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Wow. Who knew. But I bet we'll continuously be entertained with new and startling revelations every few months or so from this amazingly accurate form of scientific know-how.
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Old 01-12-05, 02:39 PM
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I thought it had been common knowledge for a while that early mammals preyed on dinosaur eggs. Why would it be shocking if they also ate baby dinosaurs?

- David Stein
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Old 01-12-05, 02:40 PM
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Not only that, they showed on Walking with Dinosaurs that these 2 hedgehog-like early mammals eating some baby dinosaurs.
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Old 01-12-05, 02:44 PM
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I always under the impression that mammals and dinosaurs did not exist at the same time. Oh well that's interesting news. Now if they would only find a dinosaur with a person inside of them.
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Old 01-12-05, 02:54 PM
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Small animals will generally eat animals smaller than themselves. Nothing to see here, please move along.
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Old 01-12-05, 02:56 PM
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Apart from Brontosaurus Burgers, they also enjoyed ribs!
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Old 01-12-05, 03:06 PM
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Originally Posted by bhk
Not only that, they showed on Walking with Dinosaurs that these 2 hedgehog-like early mammals eating some baby dinosaurs.
Yes, that was such a sad moment seeing the little baby dinosaurs being someone's lunch.
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Old 01-12-05, 03:17 PM
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I'd eat it.
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Old 01-12-05, 03:20 PM
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There is just no way of knowing, guess I'll have to build that time machine.
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Old 01-12-05, 07:14 PM
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Yeah, many modern mammals eat snakes and lizards so it would make sense that ancient ones did it too. But I did understand how this find chips away at the "Dinos ruled all" theory. If you're a dino and another animal crosses your path with a bigger mouth, apparently your rule was over.

In the animal world some animals simply go after smaller animals no matter what they are. Anyone who's owned Aquariums knows that fish are notorious for this.

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Old 01-12-05, 11:22 PM
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Yeah, it's really not that surprising that an opossum-sized mammal would eat a dinosaur the size of a rat.

In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't mean much.
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Old 01-13-05, 12:20 PM
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I wonder if they tasted like chicken.
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Old 01-13-05, 12:24 PM
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I hope it was one of those whiny Land Before Time fuckers.
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Old 01-13-05, 12:52 PM
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To damn long to read all of that. Can only screw off so much at work. Bottom line dino's became extinct from heart disease from eating at to many McDinos. Over a Billion Slain and counting
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Old 01-13-05, 02:18 PM
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Originally Posted by PopcornTreeCt
I always under the impression that mammals and dinosaurs did not exist at the same time. Oh well that's interesting news. Now if they would only find a dinosaur with a person inside of them.
The mammals that coexisted were pretty early mammals. Had humans been around, we would have been figuring out how to hunt/kill/eat T-Rex.
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Old 01-13-05, 03:36 PM
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Early mammal ate dinosaurs??
Theres nothing more sad in nature than those little p***y-ass dinosours
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Old 01-13-05, 03:38 PM
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The mammals that coexisted were pretty early mammals. Had humans been around, we would have been figuring out how to hunt/kill/eat T-Rex.
I doubt it, we don't run around hunting/killing/eating lions nowadays.
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Old 01-13-05, 04:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Brain Stew


Apart from Brontosaurus Burgers, they also enjoyed ribs!
But mammoths aren't dinosaurs ...
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Old 01-13-05, 05:00 PM
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Originally Posted by bhk
I doubt it, we don't run around hunting/killing/eating lions nowadays.
Lions don't taste like chicken. But in fact, early man did a pretty serious job of either wiping out or teaching fear of humans to predators that preyed on humans. I suspect teaching fear of humans to a T-Rex is quite difficult and we would have killed them all.

The idea of not going and killing all the human predators is really a pretty recent one.
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Old 01-13-05, 06:39 PM
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i think this is important to these scientists not so much because little dinos were eaten, but the fact that much larger mammals than they thought existed at this time, did infact exist. which can lead to speculation that even larger mammals existed. this finding basically has the possibility of screwing up the evolution timeline.
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Old 01-14-05, 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by DVD Polizei
Wow. Who knew. But I bet we'll continuously be entertained with new and startling revelations every few months or so from this amazingly accurate form of scientific know-how.
Isn't that what science is about? If it wasn't, the first scientist would have discovered everything and that would be it....that sounds more like religion...
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