January 25, 2011 11:09
Scientists have unearthed a previously unknown one-fingered dinosaur species in northeastern China.
The two-legged dinosaur was similar in size to a parrot, but had only one claw on each hand.
Scientist of the Chinese Academy of Sciences say the species belongs to a family of theropods, which usually had three fingers on each hand. They say this is the first dinosaur found in that group with a single large claw. Some scientists believed the claw was used to dig into insect nests.
Scientist Xu Xing says the newly discovered species, called Linhenykus, likely grew to 1 m in height and weighed no more than a large parrot. Scientists say it highlights a complex pattern of evolution in this dinosaur group.
The remains of the Chinese dinosaur were found in rocks formed 75 to 84 million years ago in the city of Linhe, near the Yellow River in Inner Mongolia.
Theropods are primarily a meat-eating group that includes the well-known tyrannosaurus and velociraptor, which were predecessors of modern birds.
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