Confuciusornis vs Citipati
Citipati is wandering on the desert sands. The nest she laid earlier in the forest near the river was covered by a massive flood, forcing her to abandon it and move on. Such catastrophes happen occasionally, but Citipati is still young, and like modern birds, will have many opportunities to lay another clutch.
As she gazes over the golden landscape and shifting dunes of her familiar home, she is looking for a cooler spot to wait out the heat of the day. Her large eyes at the end of her tall neck give her excellent vision of the area. She spots a small clump of vegetation in an area between the dunes. The shrubs are centered above a small seep of water, giving them just enough moisture to cling on in the desert heat (Jerzykiewicz et al. 1993). Tucking her feathered arms against her body, she begins heading towards the green spot, striding fast on her long legs.
Meanwhile, a rustling motion in the vegetation disturbs a few feathers, which drift slowly to the ground. Confuciusornis is perched in the vegetation (Falk et al. 2016) hunkered away from the sun. She is used to the thick vegetation and cool lakes of her home, fishing and hunting for small prey in and around the water (Zinoviev, 2009). The blazing sun and dry sands are completely foreign to her. Instinctively, she has fled to the only plants in the area and rests in the shade, keeping an eye out for any seeds or insects that she might be able to feed on.
Citipati approaches the plants and ducks underneath the leaves. There is an immediate and dramatic change of temperature. Spending the hottest part of the day in the shade is a life saving adaptation in the desert, which many modern animals still employ (Roberts et al. 2016).
Confuciusornis whistles in surprised agitation as Citipati enters the cool shade, rattling the branch she is perched on. Unfortunate decision, as Citipati reacts immediately with aggressive territoriality. She flashes the feathers on her arms and tail, and lunges at Confuciusornis with her long, snake-like neck. Confuciusornis flits to another branch, and another, but Citipati continues to snap at her with her large beak, until Confuciusornis is finally forced to flee out into the open air.
Citipati finally settles down to a nice cool nap, while Confuciusornis must make her way through the mid-day sun to some other shelter.