Friday, April 2, 2010

Agile 'roadrunner' dinosaur fossil found out in China

One the most agile Dinosaurs so far found out has been unearthed in China.

The tiny dinosaur, dubbed a "roadrunner" by the scientists who discover it, is also one of the smallest Dinosaurs Discovery.

Measuring just half a meter long, the fleet-footed theropod named Xixianykus zhangi was likely to have utilized a huge claw to dig for termites and ants.

It then used its speed to powerfully move between ant mounds and avoid the attentions of larger predators.

Information of the discovery are published in the journal Zootaxa.

"The limb proportions of Xixianykus are among the most extreme ever recorded for a theropod dinosaur," says Dr Corwin Sullivan, a Canadian palaeontologist based at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing and one of the authors of the study.

For e.g., the small theropod's upper leg, or femur or thigh bone, is particularly short in comparison to its lower leg and foot.

A similar pattern is seen in many running animals nowadays.

"This doesn't afford a basis for estimating its top speed, but it does show that Xixianykus was a highly efficient runner," says Dr Sullivan.