(ORDO NEWS) — The bones are approximately 160 million years old, and the discovery was made by a group of scientists from the University of Tübingen led by Professor Hans-Ulrich Pfretzschner.
They studied the remains of various Jurassic animals, found in 2000 by a joint German-Chinese expedition in northwest China, and noticed small bite marks on one of the bones of a twenty-meter sauropod.
Upon closer examination and comparison with similar marks on later remains, it turned out that the teeth with which these bites were left belonged to a mammal.
The authors of the study reconstructed and came to the conclusion that this animal was about the size of a modern shrew, and it ate mainly insects or was omnivorous, and as the footprints on the bones of the dinosaur show, it also did not disdain carrion.
Scientists are almost sure that this distant human ancestor left traces of his teeth on the corpse of a previously deceased dinosaur, since, based on the size ratio, it is hardly possible to talk about hunting in this case.
According to Felix Augustin, who participated in the study, mammals lived “in the shadow” of dinosaurs for a long time and during this period managed to develop sufficient diversity and occupy various ecological niches.
This diversity is reflected in various types of nutrition, which scientists usually reconstruct by indirect signs – the structure of the teeth and jaws. Direct evidence such as teeth marks on bones are extremely rare. “All such evidence so far known comes from the Cretaceous at the earliest, and is at most 100 million years old. That is why our discovery, which is about 160 million years old, is so remarkable, ”says Augustin.
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