Monday, March 21, 2011

A new found ant-eating dinosaur

Scientists revealed a newfound ant-eating dinosaur. It was one of the smallest known and also one of the best tailored for running.

A farmer discovered the fossil skeleton of the roughly foot-and-a-half-long creature, Xixianykus zhangi, in China.

The dinosaur lived in a warm, temperate forested environment, watered by rivers and lakes alongside duck-billed dinosaurs. It was likely sail-backed predators known as spinosaurs roughly 89 million to 83 million years ago. Scientists are not sure how the dinosaur corroded, but the fossil is fairly intact compared with many, hence another creature perhaps did not kill it.

The dinosaur had a short upper leg in evaluation with its lower leg, a characteristic seen in many running animals.

The dinosaur was a theropod. It includes carnivores likely T-rex and Velociraptor. Its closest relatives within the theropod group known as alvarezsaurs had short but strong arms, tipped with a single massive claw to break into logs or insect nests. Even though the forequarters of Xixianykus did not stand the test of time, it likely fed in the same way, digging for termites and ants.

The researchers noted, many alvarezsaurs shared the fast-paced approach to life Xixianykus. Any small dinosaurs would be vulnerable to predators, and the ability to make a speedy exit if danger threatened would be valuable to an animal like this.

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