P. Edronkin

The Diet Of A Dinosaur



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The issue of dieting and diets in something that should not only worry us because of health issues related to ourselves; in the realm of science, knowledge about food and nutrients is fundamental for many reasons.

The kind of diet that a particular individual has or had during life may tell an investigator many things about his, her or its lifestyle.

These techniques, essentially the same that we use to learn about our diets, are used in palaeontology to analyse the past of our planet. In France and Germany, a number of intriguing Jurassic fossils have been found over many years; to give you an idea, this means that these fossils are between 208 and 144 million years old, and even from these, scientists were able to learn something about diets and food the time.

One of the most striking species of that time was the Compsognathus, a small Coelurosaruid, closely related to Archaeopteryx, the first bird ever identified, which lived in the same region and period, and sharing the same ecosystem. In various excavations made in the area of Solnhofen, in Germany, various fossils of Compsognathii were found, in which the stomach contents could still be identified: these animals ate small lizards and insects. Besides, Compsognathii were themselves very similar to birds, anatomically speaking; so, it becomes apparent that their lifestyle was similar too.

In fact, it is quite probable, based on current fossil evidence, that birds actually evolved from Coelurosaurids, and it is no coincidence that they seem similar even in dietary traits, for these dinosaurs evolved - it seems - as a functional response to their dietary requirements. The two most widely accepted explanations for the evolution of birds state that it was the produce of these small animal either jumping into the air to catch their prey, and thus, over time evolving some means - wings and feathers - to stay longer in the air and make a better catch more often, or they used to live in tree branches and jumped from one to another in order to achieve the same goal and thus, evolved gliding mechanisms and afterwards, powered fly by flapping their wings.

So, evolution of birds seems not to have been produced as a survival or migratory mechanism, but as a matter of food. Of course, the ability to move freely thorough the air helped them to survive and migrate, and over time, like mammals - which evolved side by side with birds - took over the whole planet.

And for those still in doubt: dinosaurs did not vanish from the face of Earth completely, because birds are dinosaurs themselves, the last surviving family of them.

One last thing: Whenever we see fossil food inside the stomach of a dead dinosaur we are witnessing the last meal of the animal so, since eating can kill you, take care and eat healthy meals.




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