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A strange Ostrich dinosaur discovered in China
A new dinosaur, a close cousin of the oviraptor, has been discovered and described by Chinese palaeontologists. Its name is Corythoraptor Jacobsi. It probably resembled the Casoar of Australia and New Guinea.
Since the 1990s, China has delivered a number of dinosaur fossils clearly showing the presence of feathers in some of these terrible lizards and justifying the connection (recognized in the early 19th century) between dinosaurs and birds.
An article published in the famous journal Scientific Reports demonstrated this again. It reported the discovery of a new oviraptorid, a member of a famous extinct family of feathered theropod dinosaurs, one of the best known of which is, of course, the oviraptor.
The remained fossil of this dinosaur was unearthed in 2015 not far from Canton (Guangzhou), the capital of Guangdong province in southern China. Almost complete, they reveal an animal about 1.6 meters high, carved for bipedal running in the manner of modern ostriches. It died as a young adult of at least 8 years of age during the Upper Cretaceous, between 100 and 66 million years ago.
A unicaronculate casoar from New Guinea
The animal was marked by the presence of a bony ridge 15 cm high. Given its general appearance, it closely resembled the unicaronculate casoar (Casuarius unappendiculatus). It was a bird species that lived in northern New Guinea, or the helmet Casoar (Casuarius Casuarius), from Australia and Indonesia. Although fearful, casoars were dangerous because their legs had a long claw that can inflict wounds comparable to those left by a dagger.
The new dinosaur was named Corythoraptor jacobsi in honor of Professor Louis L. Jacobs (this American paleontologist was a mentor of three Chinese paleontologists while they were doctoral students at a university of Dallas, Texas).
Its crest and its similarities to the cassowary suggested that this body part was meant to be used for parade and for breeding. More generally, the lifestyles of these two types of animals could be comparable.
A rare occurrence, feathered ostrich dinosaurs had been found in Canada. One of them, an adult that could not fly, even though he appeared to have wings. So, they were originally meant to be used during the seduction sequence.
It's no secret that many dinosaurs, related or not to today's birds, have had feathers since the Triassic period. This assertion was based on the discovery of several key fossils in China, in the Liaoning province, and in Germany, especially in Bavaria. The required conditions for the conservation of protoplumes were drastic.
The animal might be buried in a muddy (and therefore fine-grained) sediments, in calm waters, for example at the bottom of lakes or lagoons. At least, this was what have been believed until now.
Three dinosaurs with different types of primitive feathers have just been discovered in an ancient river channel located in Canada, in the province of Alberta.
The fossils extracted from the sandstone were believed to date from the Upper Cretaceous, about 75 million years ago. They belonged to the family of ornithomimidae, the ostrich dinosaurs. No particular tegumentary structure had been observed within this group before. Wing-like forelimbs have also been observed.
The three skeletons belonged to individuals of different ages, including a juvenile that would have lived only one year. Darla Zelenitsky from the University of Calgary, studied the evolution of the plumage during the development of the species to adulthood.
In the Science journal, she confirmed a supposed fact: the development of the first wings throughout history was not related to flight!
Skeleton of the Ornithomimus edmontonicus having preserved traces of feathers on its ulna. Adults of this species could weigh between 100 and 150 kg.
The dinosaurs that had been found were: Ornithomimus Edmontonicus, herbivorous theropods and of course bipeds. The young and adults had intra-tegumentary filaments (coming out of the skin) similar to primitive feathers all over their body. These structures were about 50 mm long and 0.5 mm diameters. No significant difference was found with respect to the protoplumes discovered in China.
The second adult dinosaur also had true feathers consisting of a rigid shaft (1.5 mm in diameter) and sometimes barbules on its forelimbs. Thus, they had the appearance of wings.
More than 70 traces were counted on the ulna. However, Ornithomimus edmontonicus could reach 3.8 m in length, so its weight and size must have prevented it from flying.
What were these primitive wings used for?
Developed after the acquisition of sexual maturity, it was likely that they were used during reproductive behaviour, for example during courtship or for the protection of offspring. Their role in thermoregulation or flight would have developed later in evolution. It would be a phenomenon of exceptation: the function finally fulfilled by an adaptation would not correspond to its first one.
The appearance of anatomical structures comparable to the current wings in ornithomimosaurs, thanks particularly to the presence of long feathers and filaments, demonstrates another fact: they would have appeared earlier than expected in the evolutionary history of the theropods. The discovery of feathers preserved in sandstone would also have serious consequences. Indeed, many more feathered dinosaurs could be found in the world than previously thought.
The small 300g specimen, which had bat-like wings, was 163 million years old.
It was a new "ferocious" small dinosaur discovered by Chinese researchers. With bat-like wings, this specimen was identified in a 163-million-year-old fossil, reports The Independent. This new species belongs to the scansoriopterygids, a group of dinosaurs that climbed trees with long legs.
Called Ambopteryx longibrachium, this small dinosaur no larger than a magpie weighed 300 grams. According to researchers, it spent most of its time in trees or flying from branches to branches. The study of its fossilized stomach also identified bones, suggesting that it hunted other dinosaurs for food.
"He was probably pretty fierce," said Min Wang, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
But the main discovery lies in the shape of its wings. Made of a membrane like those of bats, they had never been observed in theropods.
This discovery "has completely changed our view of the evolution of dinosaurs," said Dr. Wang. "We imagined that dinosaurs had wings with feathers. But this latest discovery changes our understanding of the origins of flight.
This dinosaur looks like another specimen found in 2007 by a Chinese farmer. This fossil was then the first to show the existence of these bat wings in dinosaurs. "Wings with feathers are more common, so I think they evolved earlier," said Dr. Wang, giving birth to the birds we know today.
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