Mammals Ate Dinosaurs: Newly Found Fossil Upends Thinking, Suggests Smaller Mammals Attacked Larger Dinosaurs

When I was young I was taught that our ancient mammal ancestors were small and likely afraid of dinosaurs. They scavenged and ate eggs but otherwise hid out. But a new fossil shows that to the contrary mammals ate dinosaurs.

The battle. The fossil from China that has started the discussion. The mammal is atop he dinosaur and is biting it, according to experts. Photo credit Gang Hen.

According to NewScientist the fossil is unique. It shows the cat sized mammal Repenomamus robustus attacking a victim three times its size. The victim, Psittacasaurus lujiatunensis, and the attacker are entwined and the mammal is clearly biting the plant-eating dinosaur. These mammals are believed to have scavenged dinosaurs corpses but not attacked and eaten them.

Artist rendering of a psittacosaurus. Photo This type of dinosaur may be the one a mammal ate.

While the battle played out a nearby volcano erupted and the two were suffocated and preserved to be found 125 million years later. With the mammal on top and the dinosaur’s bones unscratched it is unlikely the mammal was scavenging the dinosaur. According to Brittanica psittacosaurs were about 6.5 feet long and parrot-beaked. Repenomammus was large for a mammal of its time and could reach the size of a modern badger. The idea that mammals ate dinosaurs is changing scientific thinking.

Repenomammus robustus rendering. Photo via Dinopedia. This mammal ate dinosaurs a Chinese fossil suggests

Other recent paleontological news concerns the Loch Ness Monster. “Nessie” is often thought to have been a plesiosaur (if she ever existed.) Scientists thought all plesiosaurs were salt water creatures. But discoveries of fossils in riverbeds has upended

Loch Ness Monster
Loch Ness Monster by don cload is licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.0

that idea. It is now “plausible” that plesiosaurs lived in Loch Ness but they disappeared millions of years ago. But the search goes on and Scotland receives many tourist dollars each year.

Published by ursusrising

long time writer and editor living in Los Angeles

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