Preserved bone of Pterosaur found in stomach of Velociraptor

Mar 06, 2012
Artist’s impression of a Velociraptor scavenging the carcass of a Pterosaur. Credit: Brett Booth

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists have discovered a bone from a pterosaur (giant flying reptile or 'pterodactyl') in the guts of the skeletal remains of a Velociraptor (small predatory theropod dinosaur) that lived in the Gobi Desert in Mongolia some 75 million years ago.

The findings published online in Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, and Palaeoecology, support the idea that Velociraptor, a with a specialised sickle shaped slashing talon on the second toe of each foot and large grasping hands, would also scavenge on available rather than turn down a free meal.

They also indicate that small non-avian dinosaurs were capable of consuming relatively large bones, something that we see in modern .

The international research team involved scientists from University College Dublin, Ireland; the National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo, Japan; the Museum of Natural Sciences, Okayama, Japan; and the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, Ulaanbaatr, Mongolia.

Image of Velociraptor fossil showing the 75 mm long pterosaur bone in the gut (black arrows) and where the rib cage was broken (white arrow). Credit: David Hone

"It would be difficult and probably even dangerous for the small theropod dinosaur to target a pterosaur with a of 2 metres or more, unless the pterosaur was already ill or injured," says Dr David Hone, one of the co-authors of the study, who was based at the UCD School of Biology and Environmental Sciences, University College Dublin, Ireland, at the time of the analysis.

"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."

The fossil, originally recovered from the in 1994, shows the well preserved 75 mm long pterosaur bone lodged in the upper part of the Velociraptor ribcage where its stomach would have been.

"The surface of the bone is smooth and in good condition, with no unusual traces of marks or deformation that could be attributed to digestive acids," says Dr Hone.

"So it's likely that the Velociraptor itself died not long after ingesting the bone."

Further analysis of the of the Velociraptor showed that it was carrying, or recovering from, an injury to its ribs when it died.

This is the first time that bones from a pterosaur have been uncovered as gut contents from dinosaur remains.

Explore further: Museum to display 6,500-year-old human skeleton

Provided by University College Dublin

5 /5 (6 votes)

Related Stories

New species of flying reptile identified on B.C. coast

Jan 10, 2011

Persistence paid off for a University of Alberta paleontology researcher, who after months of pondering the origins of a fossilized jaw bone, finally identified it as a new species of pterosaur, a flying reptile that lived ...

The first single-fingered dinosaur

Jan 24, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- A new species of parrot-sized dinosaur, the first discovered with only one finger, has been unearthed in Inner Mongolia, China.

Recommended for you

Oldest representative of a weird arthropod group

Aug 28, 2014

Biologists at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich have assigned a number of 435-million-year-old fossils to a new genus of predatory arthropods. These animals lived in shallow marine habitats ...

Bronze Age wine cellar found

Aug 27, 2014

A Bronze Age palace excavation reveals an ancient wine cellar, according to a study published August 27, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Andrew Koh from Brandeis University and colleagues.

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

foofighter
2.3 / 5 (3) Mar 06, 2012
I guess this happened after God Almighty Christ gave animals permission to eat meat...
Vendicar_Decarian
3 / 5 (2) Mar 06, 2012
How do we know that the bone wasn't placed there purposely by a brontosaurus seeking to fool future generations of hyper-evolved shrew?