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Re: Microraptor also ate fish

Michael OSullivan <michael.osullivan@port.ac.uk> wrote:

> Going from eating fish to plucking them from the water surface like a
> bulldog bat is an extreme leap in my opinion. The most probable explanation
> for why we find Microraptor in lake deposits is it's the best area for
> preservation in the region at the time. If they are partially arboreal, or
> even wholly terrestrial, if they live in a forested environment, the
> preservation potential would be much lower. We're still debating the
> capabilities of Microraptor in the air, but I would be conservative with
> regards to powered flight. To be honest, as nice as it is to have expanded
> Microraptor's diet, it's not unexpected as many carnivores will take fish
> if they can. I'm not sure you could argue there are any traits of
> Microraptor that make it particularly specialized for piscivory , beyond
> what we see in most small generalist carnivores.

I fully agree, on all points, w.r.t. _Microraptor_.

I also doubt that the fish preserved in one _Confuciusornis_ specimen
was the resulting of skimming it from the water surface.  Like
_Microraptor_, it was probably hunting at the water's edge.

Also, if one follows Van Valkenburgh's definition of "arboreal",
arboreal animals are those that rarely spend time on the ground, and
forage and shelter in trees.  Under this definition, I don't believe
that any non-avialan theropod qualifies as arboreal (such as
_Microraptor_).  I also don't believe that most basal avialans were
arboreal (including _Archaeopteryx_ and _Confuciusornis_).  A
maniraptoran that spent most of its time on the ground, and ventured
into trees only to hunt opportunistically, would not be arboreal.