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Re: Microraptor ate birds

Mickey Mortimer <mickey_mortimer111@msn.com> wrote:

> Well, of the dinosaur abstracts at least.  Not that it isn't a decent 
> hypothesis, it's just that the evidence presented can't support it.

Nevertheless... it is worth pondering the evidence that is available.
_Microraptor_ has been inferred to be arboreal (or at least
scansorial) based on osteological characters, chiefly pertaining to
the pes.  _Microraptor_ has also been inferred to be a glider based on
its type of feathers, and their arrangement.  Now we have a
_Microraptor_ with an arboreal bird in its tummy.  So an animal
previously inferred to have spent at least some time in trees just
happens to be preserved with prey that's arboreal?  Is it coincidence?
 Or consilience?

Having said all that, I find it hard to believe that a _Microraptor_
could surprise an enantiornithean bird in a tree.  But just because I
find it hard to believe, doesn't mean it wasn't so.

> Arboreal animals generally spend too much time on or near the ground to make 
> a sample size of one as gut contents matter.

It's a bit like the _Confuciusornis_ specimen found with fish remains
inside.  It shows that _Confuciusornis_ ate fish - not that fish was a
major part of its diet, nor that this 'bird' was aquatic.  The vast
majority of _Confuciusornis_ specimens lack gut contents at all.

> Gut content-wise, maybe a gut full of epiphytes.  You'd need something that 
> doesn't usually get on or close to the ground when alive,

If a gliding mammal (like a volaticotheriid) was found as gut contents
in _Microraptor_, it would be compelling evidence.  Gliding mammals
tend to avoid the ground.