Food remains in Confuciusornis sanctus suggest a fish diet
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Despite hundreds of excellent fossils of Confuciusornis, the most abundant group of birds in the Early Cretaceous, ‘Jehol Biota’ in China, there is yet no indication of the food choice of these birds. Here, we describe fish remains preserved in the alimentary system of a specimen of Confuciusornis sanctus from the Jiufotang Formation. This find is about five million years younger than all previously published confuciusornithid birds from the Yixian Formation. Although it is unknown how common fish was in the diet of Confuciusornis, the find does not support previous hypotheses that it fed on plants or grain.
KeywordsEarly Cretaceous Liaoning Province Fish Bone Yixian Formation Mass Mortality Event
We thank Chang Meemann and Else Marie Friis for sharing their knowledge about the Jehol Biota and Luis M. Chiappe for the unpublished information about Confuciusornis. Yang Mingwan made the drawing. Comments from Andrzej Elzanowski and two anonymous reviewers improved the manuscript. The National Natural Science Foundation of China, Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Swedish Academy of Sciences, and the Swedish Research Council supported this work. Travels and meetings in China were supported by a grant within the Swedish Research Links programme to Z. Z.-H. and Else Marie Friis.
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