Scientists from the Chinese science academy CAS have discovered a new prehistoric reptile species in the belly of the larger fossil Microraptor zhaoianus. The researchers describe their findings in the scientific journal Current Biology .
The smaller reptile has been given the name Indrasaurus wangi. Indra is based on the Hindu goddess Indra, who was swallowed up by the dragon Vritra during a fight. The dragon in this metaphor is of course the Microraptor.
The skeleton of the Indrasaurus is almost complete, with all bones still in the right place. This shows that the animal has been swallowed in one go.
The Microraptor, and thus the Indrasaurus, lived in modern China 120 million years ago during the early Cretaceous period.
One of the authors of the research carried out a large genetic research into the reptile species from the chalk. This showed that all species from this era were closely related.
The teeth of the Indrasaurus deviate from those of other reptiles of this time and this area, possibly suggesting that these animals had a different diet than peers.
An artist sketch of the Microraptor that swallows the Indrasaurus. (Photo: Doyle Trankina)