An ancient ‘crime scene’ in Utah has revealed evidence of a dinosaur in the act of preying on a small mammal.

A 77-million-year-old dinosaur claw mark and scratched-out digging traces were discovered next to a series of mammal burrows in Dixie National Forest by Edward Simpson, a geologist at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania, and his colleagues.

“It appears a dinosaur was digging down and trapping rodent-like mammals in a similar way to coyotes hunting around prairie dog burrows today,” New Scientist quoted Simpson as saying.

The size and curvature of the claw indicates that it was a maniraptoran theropod - carnivorous dinosaurs including velociraptors and the ancestors of modern birds among their ranks.

The traces were preserved when sand was suddenly dumped onto the burrows during a flood.

The find is published in Geology.

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