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
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.