If you lie awake at night wondering Velociraptor's favorite food was (and whether it tastes much like human flesh), you're in luck. For the first time, a Velociraptor skeleton has been observed with its last supper still filling its guts, and this little guy feasted on long-dead pterosaur.
Paleontologist David Hone has published a new paper describing his findings in Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, but for those who don't want to breach the paywall, he's also explaining them on his blog. This especially well preserved specimen was discovered in the 1990s, but has only just now been described. Hone and his colleagues identified the skeleton as a Velociraptor and the bones inside as a Late Cretaceous pterosaur.
This is not only the first time that a Velociraptor's gut contents have been observed, it's also the first time a pterosaur bone has been found inside a theropod, the bipedal suborder of dinosaurs to which both Velociraptor and Tyrannosaurus Rex belong. Hone calls it "exceptional evidence" that these Jurassic Park predators chowed down on pterosaurs and their kin.
We all know of the Velociraptor's hunting prowess (some of us still have nightmares about it), but how exactly did this dinosaur manage to eat a winged snack? According to the paper's abstract, this helps solidify the idea that Velociraptor sometimes scavenged for its supper, a matter Hone will be exploring very soon on his blog.
He's also posted some lovely photos of the fossil in question. The white arrow points to a spot where this Velociraptor broke its rib cage.
Velociraptor scavenging an azhdarchid pterosaur [David Hone — Many thanks to Chris for sending this our way!]