GuanlonG vs. Ichthyornis
Time Period & Environment: Kaiparowits Formation, USA, 75 million years ago
Written By: Jackson Sweder
The air is heavy with humidity after the recent rains in the Kaiparowits region of Utah 75 million years ago. This subtropical forest in the area of a river delta is a strange place for the visiting Ichthyornis. 10 million years has changed the landscape dramatically from when this sea-going bird lived. It is much warmer and more humid, but as long as the sea is near and there are fish to be caught, the Icthyornis does not seem to mind.
But for Guanlong, who would normally be found in the marshlands of China 160 million years ago, the new ecosystem it finds itself in is very strange indeed. Though it does seem to appreciate the lack of dangerous mud pits formed where volcanic ash accumulates into a sticky morass that traps most animals unlucky enough to step in one of the larger ones.
Walking along the sandy beach looking for opportunities to scavenge the Guanlong has been able to scratch a living out in this new land. Its ability to hunt has been hampered by the presence of the predators who belong here and have staked their own jealously guarded territories.
So, when it sees a small bird crouched on the sand of the beach eating a recently caught fish the Guanlong is hopeful to catch a mouthful. The Icthyornis has its back to where the Guanlong is stalking it from, and it is focused on its meal. Step by cautious step the Guanlong stalks closer until it is near enough to strike. One more step and it will rush the unsuspecting Icthyornis.
At this moment though the bird lifts its head and notices the danger just a few meters away. Squawking with alarm it leaps into the air to escape but it has done this a second too late. The Guanlong rushes forward and snaps its jaws at the fleeing Icthyornis grabbing a wing. This bite is not enough to hold the bird, but it is enough to injure it as the Icthyornis crashes to the ground with a broken wing. Helpless to escape, the Ichthyornis watches as the Guanlong approaches and bends down to feed.
A few minutes later, the Guanlong continues its search along the beach hoping to find something else to sate its now slightly reduced hunger.