Newly discovered fossils of a toothless, parrot-like dinosaur species that lived more than 68 million years ago reveal a creature with two fingers on each forearm. That’s one less digit than its close dino relatives had.
The fossils imply that the dinosaurs may have evolved forelimb adaptations that enabled them to spread during the Late Cretaceous Period, researchers say in a new study published Wednesday in The Royal Society Open Science journal. Paleontologists from the University of Edinburgh found a number of complete skeletons of the new species during a dig in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert.
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The feathered, omnivorous Oksoko avarsan grew to around 6.5 feet (2 meters) long. In addition to two functional digits on each
Multiple skeletons of the Oksoko avarsan, a feathered omnivorous dinosaur that grew to 2meters in length, were dug up in the Gobi Desert in Mongolia by researchers from the University of Edinburgh, according to a news statement published Tuesday.
It had a large, toothless beak like modern-day parrots and just two digits on each forearm — one less than its close relatives.
It’s the first time scientists have seen evidence of digit loss among oviraptors, a family of three-fingered dinosaurs.
Evolving to have fewer digits suggests they could also “alter their diets and lifestyles, and enabled them to diversify and multiply,” according to the statement.
The “very complete” juvenile skeletons were found resting together, showing that young Oksoko avarsan roamed in groups, said paleontologistGregory Funston, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Edinburgh who led the study.
“But more importantly, its two-fingered hand prompted us to look at
The feather looks like any feather you might find on the ground. But it’s not. It’s about 150 million years old, and it fluttered to the ground back when the dinosaurs roamed what is today called Bavaria. It’s entombed in limestone, and, when paleontologists unearthed it in 1861, it became the first fossil feather ever discovered.
Many paleontologists think the feather came from archaeopteryx lithographica, a creature that, with its feathered wings and sharp-toothed mouth, bears features of both dinosaurs and birds, making it a herald of the evolutionary transition between the two groups.
But that first-known fossil feather isn’t attached to an archaeopteryx skeleton, and so for more than a century, not all scientists have agreed on the identity of the feather’s owner.
“There’s been this debate, even when the feather was found: Does this isolated feather belong to the same animal as these skeletal specimens of archaeopteryx?” said
Paleontologists have unearthed a new species of burrowing dinosaur that once walked on two legs some 125 million years ago in modern-day China, reports Jon Haworth for ABC News. A new paper describing the species, published this month in the journal PeerJ, argues it is the most primitive ornithopod—the family of dinosaurs that includes bipedal “duck-billed” species such as Iguanodon—ever found.
Found in northeastern China’s Liaoning Province, researchers named the dinosaur Changmiania liaoningensis after the serene postures of the two almost perfectly preserved skeletons that underpin the discovery—changmian means “eternal sleep” in Chinese. The digging dino’s near-immaculate fossilization may have been the result of an unpleasant demise. Some researchers suggest a volcanic eruption likely trapped the nearly four-foot-long Changmiania underground where it may have suffocated or starved to death.
“These animals were quickly covered by fine sediment while they were still alive or just after their death,” says
The fossils date back an estimated 125 million years ago.
September 21, 2020, 9:09 AM
• 5 min read
Paleontologists in China have discovered a brand new species of burrowing dinosaur that dates back an estimated 125 million years ago.
The newly found dinosaur species was discovered in the Lujiatun Beds, located in northeast China in the Liaoning Province, in the oldest layers of the famous Yixian Formation which has produced several hundred preserved dinosaur skeletons over the past 20 years.
The fossils of the Changmiania liaoningensis were found perfectly intact and uninterrupted, suggesting to scientists that the animals were trapped by a volcanic eruption while they rested at the bottom of their burrows.
“The Lujiatun Beds would have been a kind of Cretaceous ‘Pompeii’,” said the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences in an article announcing the discovery.
The new species of burrowing dinosaur was discovered in the Lujiatun Beds, the oldest layers of the famous Yixian Formation in northeast China, according to a news release. Scientists believe that they were trapped by a volcanic eruption while resting at the bottom of their burrows.
“These animals were quickly covered by fine sediment while they were still alive or just after their death,” palaeontologist Pascal Godefroit of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, said.
The scientist said that the effect would be very similar to what happened in Pompeii. The new species was named Changmiania liaoningensis, according to the news release. Changmian means “eternal sleep” in Chinese.
Scientists deduce that the ornithopod lived during the Cretaceous period and that it was a small herbivore that could run very fast, based on the length of its tail and its leg composition. It was about 1.2 meters (about 4 feet)
Researchers have discovered 125-million-year-old dinosaur fossils that are perfectly preserved and suggest the creatures were trapped by a volcanic eruption.
The study, published in the scientific journal PeerJ, notes the species were discovered in the western Liaoning Province in China and have been named Changmiania liaoningensis, which means “eternal sleeper from Liaoning” in Chinese.
“These animals were quickly covered by fine sediment while they were still alive or just after their death,” said the study’s co-author and paleontologist Pascal Godefroit, in a statement.
One of the two perfectly preserved skeletons of Changmiania liaoningensis and an artist’s impression. (Drawing: Carine Ciselet)
LARGEST DINOSAUR EVER HAD ‘RHINO-LIKE HORN’ AT BIRTH, RESEARCH REVEALS
C. liaoningensis was small compared to its larger herbivore brethren, such as the titanosaur. It was approximately 4-feet long and had “very powerful hind legs” to go with a long tail, which suggests the ancient ornithopod was a strong
But it’s the tiniest fossils that have transformed paleontology over the past five years.
Some of the field’s most extraordinary discoveries have come from amber: A dinosaur tail, parts of primitive birds, insects, lizards and flowers have all been found entombed in globs of 100 million-year-old tree resin.
They offer a tantalizing, three-dimensional look at dinosaur times. The vivid creatures and plants look like they just died yesterday with soft tissue in place and details like skin, coloring, feathers, teeth, leaves and petals exquisitely preserved — details that are often lost in the crush of fossils formed in rock.