2011, acrylics, photography & digital
120 million years ago, Early Cretaceous (Aptian), Jiufotang Formation, Liaoning, China
In the branches of a gingko, the 4-winged dromaeosaur Microraptor gui pounces on an enantiornithine bird (Sinornis santensis). Briefly losing balance as it clutches the screeching avian, the dinosaur feels around with it's clawed foot to gain a secure purchase before finishing off it's victim with a bite to the head.
A fossil skeleton of Microraptor was described in 2011 showing the partially arcticulated remains of a tree-dwelling enantiornithine in it's tummy. This not only provided direct evidence of Micro's predatory habits, but was viewed as corroborating the idea of an arboreal lifestyle for this dinosaur.
Artwork originally published in: O'Connor, Jingmai; Zhou, Zhonghe and Xu, Xing Xu. Additional specimen of Microraptor provides unique evidence of dinosaurs preying on birds. PNAS November 21, 2011
UPDATE 29/05/2012: Microraptor is recoloured with modifications to the caudal rectrices based on data provided in: Quanguo Li et al. (2012) Reconstruction of Microraptor and the Evolution of Iridescent Plumage. Science Vol. 335 no. 6073 pp. 1215-1219.