Tarbosaurus vs. Confucisornis
In Late Cretaceous Mongolia,a seasonal drought has besieged the land. Conifer forests, once dense with understory have withered, and the trees themselves have ceased to put out new growth. Fresh water has been in short supply for weeks, with rivers running dry and lakes receding into mires of mud. Tarbosaurus wanders through a dried up riverbed, searching in desperation for water or what little prey might not have already died or migrated.
A Confuciusornis clings to a tree by the bank. It has arrived from 50 million years in the past, where biodiversity has peaked and forests are lush in early Cretaceous China. In this beleaguered landscape, Confuciusornis clings to the familiarity of the treetops. Though she is wary of the newcomer, the risk is not enough for Confuciusornis take flight and abandon the relative safety of her perch. The small animal has fared much better in the drought since she only needs a fraction of the water to sustain herself compared to Tarbosaurus. Evasion should be easy if needed, and as a female she lacks the ornamental tail feathers that might catch unwanted attention from a potential predator (Chinsamy et al. 2013)
Little does Confuciusornis know that Tarbosaurus has caught wind of her presence on the dry breeze. With his heightened sense of smell and sharp hearing, Tarbosaurus is able to pinpoint the location of his potential prey in the foliage without alerting Confuciusornis of his awareness (Saveliev & Alifanov, 2007). Such a small and nimble creature normally wouldn’t even interest the tyrannosaurid. Hadrosaurs and sauropods are his preferred prey, but he hasn’t had the energy to hunt one down for over a week. Promising little meat, the Confuciusornis isn’t much more than a crumb to the much larger predator, but times are desperate.
Using the last of his energy reserves, Tarbosaurus sets his eye on the Confuciusornis and charges. Confuciusornis is effortlessly gone before Tarbosaurus can even chomp down his teeth. With no other options in sight, Tarbosaurus lies down in the shade of the tree, hoping for rainy days. Confuciusornis watches him, from a safer distance this time, at ease from her victory over the giant.