Guanlong vs. Ornitholestes

Time Period & Environment: Late Jurassic Shishugou Formation of Northern China. Dry volcanic plains.

Written By:  Robin Sissons

During the day, the sun bakes the volcanic plains of what is now Northern China, cracking the mud and drivingmany of the local fauna into survival tactics. Normally, predators hunker down during these blazing hours and wait for the cooler shades of dawn and dusk, or even better, night, if one can see well enough in the dark.

This is exactly what the Ornitholestes is doing. After having snacked on the small dinosaur Hesperonychus earlier, he is contentedly digesting and gazing out across the unfamiliar landscape spread before him. With his keen low-light vision, he spots something thrashing in the mud not far away. Despite having just eaten, the natural curiosity ofa small bodied predator draws him closer to investigate. A potentially free meal should never be passed up, you canalways drag it into a hiding place for later.

The thrashing comes from the small enigmatic theropod Limusaurus, who has become entangled at the edge of asection of soft, sticky volcanic mud. The Ornitholestes moves closer, eyes glued to the entrancing sight of strugglingprey motion.

Another set of eyes has also been drawn to the thrashing. It is the red-feathered Guanlong, still hungry, and still hunting. She had been cautiously tailing the Limusaurus, hoping to either snatch the creature itself, or steal whatever it managed to catch. She knows these hunting grounds well, and like the Shuvuuia she encountered earlier, she knows the fate of this Limusaurus and does not wish to get stuck as well. Suddenly, another slinking figure’s movement catches her eye.

The Guanlong is hungry, and feeling aggressive and territorial. She will not share these hunting grounds, and immediately hoots, raising all the feathers along her head and neck. She then charges the Ornitholestes, who hasstartled up from his stalking behaviour and turned to identify the new sound. A blazing comet of feathers is bearing down on him, and he double times it in the opposite direction, slightly edging out his pursuer in speed, and soonescapes into the dark.

The Guanlong hoots after him for a while, stomping her feet and kicking up a ruckus. She will have these plains toherself, and begins to pace off again into the dark, looking for something to eat.

Guanlong advances!!!

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