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This newfound birdlike dinosaur had surprisingly long legs

Early birdlike dinosaurs are thought to have lived lofty lives up within the timber. However a newly found creature had surprisingly lengthy legs that will have made for a life on the run.

The leggy birdlike dino (Fujianvenator prodigiosus) lived about 150 million years in the past throughout the Jurassic Interval, researchers report September 6 in Nature. That’s across the similar time as its distant cousin Archaeopteryx, one of many earliest identified birds (SN: 3/13/18).

“It appears fairly much like Archaeopteryx … besides the legs,” says paleontologist Min Wang of the Chinese language Academy of Sciences in Beijing. “Fujianvenator has actually, actually lengthy legs.”

Wang and colleagues recognized the creature as one of many earliest identified avialans — a bunch that cut up off from the remainder of dinosaurs and ultimately grew to become birds. The primary avialans are key characters within the chook origin story. However little is understood about them, Wang says, because of the scant variety of fossils discovered.

dinobird fossil
Researchers found a fossilized Fujianvenator prodigiosus (proven from two views) in southern China. The dimensions bar is 20 millimeters.Min WangResearchers found a fossilized Fujianvenator prodigiosus (proven from two views) in southern China.M. Wang

Early avialans found to this point, together with Archaeopteryx, are usually short-limbed, apparently geared up for transferring by way of the timber. Pheasant-sized F. prodigiosus’ decrease leg bones had been twice so long as its thigh bones, a trait not discovered among the many different identified birdlike dinosaurs.

Entombed amid mudstones and shales in what’s now southeastern China, the creature’s bones had been found alongside fossils of aquatic and semiaquatic species. These clues point out that F. prodigiosus inhabited a swamplike surroundings. It in all probability dashed after prey like right this moment’s ostriches or waded by way of water like a primitive crane, Wang says.

The primary avialans weren’t all tree dwellers, he says. “It’s not the complete image.”

Nikk Ogasa

Nikk Ogasa is a employees author who focuses on the bodily sciences for Science Information. He has a grasp’s diploma in geology from McGill College, and a grasp’s diploma in science communication from the College of California, Santa Cruz.

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