Scientists say a fossil unearthed in China shows a savage encounter - frozen in time.
On Thursday they revealed that what appears to be a large lizard-like animal inside of something just as big - that looks like a dolphin -- is a dramatic record of one animal trying to swallow the other In a struggle that left both dead.
Ryosuke Motani, a paleobiologist of the University of California, co-authored a study of the 240 million-year-old fossil.
"If you look at this prey fossil, it actually hasn't been digested. So, there is no etching from the stomach acid. There's no further disintegration apart from sort of breaking down from the swallowing. So that means the predator probably did not survive too long."
What's fasincating about this fossil is it demonstrates for the first timedirect evidence of megapredation -- how large apex predators ate prey human size -- or larger.
The larger, 5-meter long animal, was a type of marine reptile called an ichtyhosaur.
It swam in Earth's waters ten million years before the dinosaurs walked the earth.
Inside its stomach was a torso of a still-large reptile that looks like a komodo dragon, a 4 meter-long Xinpusaurus.
But with flat teeth instead of cutting, pointed fangs - the predator - may not have had the right tools for the job on top of that, there's signs its neck was broken.
"Because it's not, this predator is not a snake, so it's not as good as as good at swallowing. So you have to use the inertia or maybe use the gravity to push it (prey) down. That's what the crocodiles and the whales do today."
Meaning the ichthyosaur - may have literally bit off more than it could chew.