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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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ScienceShot: Early Birdlike Dinosaur Was a Fish Eater
29 April 2013 1:00 pm
The early bird may get the worm, but the early birdlike dinosaur got the fish. A newly discovered fossil (inset) of an early Cretaceous feathered dinosaur known as Microraptor (artist's impression above), unearthed in northeastern China, surrounds a jumbled collection of fish bones, which are believed to be the content of the creature's gut. Previous studies suggested that the hawk-sized dinosaur, which lived about 120 million years ago and was able to make short, controlled flights with its four wings, mainly dieted on small birds and climbing mammals the size of modern-day squirrels. That had led researchers to conclude that Microraptor hunted in an arboreal environment. The new study, however, published this month in Evolution , shows that the dino had a more varied lifestyle. Beyond the fish bones, the fossil sports teeth angled forward and serrated on only one side, adaptations commonly associated with fish-eaters, as they make it easier to impale and swallow slippery, writhing prey without tearing them apart. The flexible feeding behaviour of the primitive Microraptor may help explain why the later members of its dromaeosaurid family—which are popularly known as raptors (and notably includes Velociraptor)—were so successful and widespread in the Late Cretaceous.
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