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A team of paleontologists, led by Jingmai O’Connor, has discovered a new dromeosaurid specimen, the Microraptor zhaoianus, with the remains of an almost complete reptile preserved in its stomach. The lizard is unlike any other known Cretaceous and represents a new species that the O’Connor team has christened Indrasaurus wangi in honor of Wang Yuan, a Chinese expert in the paleoherpetofauna.
The name Indrasaurus is inspired by a Vedic legend in which the god Indra was swallowed by a dragon during a great battle.
This is the fourth documented appearance of a Microraptor that preserves stomach contents. Thanks to this, it is known that this dinosaur fed on mammals, birds, fish and lizards, which supports the interpretation that it was an opportunistic predator.
The lizard, the authors describe in a study published in Current Biology. It is almost complete and articulated, which shows that it was swallowed whole and that its head was the first thing, which means that the Microraptor was fed in a similar way to the current carnivorous birds and lizards.
While it has been recently shown that the many members of the Microraptor family produce droppings similar to the carnivorous birds of today, a skill that was apparently not present in this reptile, which adds other evidence that the evolutionary transition from dinosaur to bird It was characterized by numerous traits that evolved multiple times independently in closely related groups.