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Compsognathus longipes

A lizard previously unknown to science fills a predator’s belly. Credit: Danny S./CC BY-SA 4.0

Palaeontology

Dinosaur’s last meal is a first for science

An undigested dinner turns out to be a new species.

A new species of gecko-like creature has been identified in an unusual place: inside the fossil of a carnivorous dinosaur.

The dinosaur was a small, swift predator called Compsognathus longipes that was first described in the nineteenth century from a skeleton found in Germany. The German fossil, which dates to roughly 150 million years ago, has long been known to contain a small lizard in its gut. But in a paper published posthumously, Jack Conrad of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City noted that the lizard’s skull anatomy does not match that of the species to which it was thought to belong.

Analysis showed that the long-tailed lizard in the dinosaur’s belly is a new species. Conrad christened it Schoenesmahl dyspepsia, which roughly translates to ‘beautiful meal that is difficult to digest’. The condition of the lizard’s fossil suggests that the dinosaur ripped apart its prey before swallowing it.

More Research Highlights...

Selected materials found in the gut contents of Tollund Man

The intestinal contents of a man killed in a prehistoric ritual (clockwise from upper left): barley, charred food that had been encrusted in a clay pot, flax seeds and sand. Credit: Peter Steen Henriksen, the Danish National Museum

Archaeology

The guts of a ‘bog body’ reveal sacrificed man’s final meal

Tollund Man, who lived more than 2,000 years ago, ate well before he was hanged.
Illustration of Earth with white lines showing the magnetic field.

Earth’s magnetic field (depicted as white lines in this artist’s impression) can be studied with observations from a constellation of commercial satellites. Credit: Mikkel Juul Jensen/Science Photo Library

Geophysics

Telecoms satellites’ new purpose: spying on Earth’s magnetic field

Clues to the forces generated by the planet’s core emerge from observations intended for satellite navigation.
Ageing of an artwork with graphene

After 130 hours of artificial ageing by visible light, the painting Triton and Nereid has lost some of the purple tint to the figures’ right, but a graphene film kept the bright pink at upper left undimmed. Credit: M. Kotsidi et al./Nature Nanotechnol.

Materials science

A graphene cloak keeps artworks’ colours ageless

A layer of carbon atoms preserves a painting’s vibrant hues — and can be applied and removed without damage.
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