Dinosaur made meals of early birds

Aug. 30, 2012 at 4:19 PM
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EDMONTON, Alberta, Aug. 30 (UPI) -- Fossil evidence suggests a feathered but flightless dinosaur was able to snag and consume smaller flying dinosaurs, Canadian paleontologists say.

A University of Alberta paleontology team has found the fossilized remains of three flying dinosaurs in the belly of a raptor-like predator called Sinocalliopteryx.

Sinocalliopteryx was about 6 feet long and roughly the size of a modern-day wolf, a U of A release said Wednesday.

The creature's flying meals were three Confuciusornis, one of the earliest birds with a crude version of a modern bird's skeleton and muscles. Such primitive birds were probably limited to slow takeoffs and short flights, the researchers said.

Sinocalliopteryx may have used stealth to stalk the flyers, they said.

"Sinocalliopteryx didn't have wings or the physical tools needed to be an adept tree climber," U of A paleontology student Scott Persons said. "The fact that this Sinocalliopteryx had, not one, but three undigested birds in its stomach indicate it was a voracious eater and a very active hunter."

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