(ORDO NEWS) — About 66 million years ago, along with huge tyrannosaurus and diplodocus, tiny Alvarezsauridae ran across our planet. We are talking about a family of small dinosaurs, whose bodies were covered with feathers and reached only 3 meters in length. These creatures had a very noticeable and to some extent ridiculous feature – on their front paws there was only one toe, on which one large claw grew.
In the pictures, the dinosaurs really look strange and awkward, but, in fact, with the help of their clawed paws, they very skillfully looked for insects under the rotten bark of trees and nests. Recently, researchers were able to discover a new species of these creatures and tell a few more interesting facts. For example, it became known that dinosaur claws got stronger with age.
New dinosaurs with feathers
The new dinosaur was featured in Science Alert. The remains of several individuals of the so-called Trierarch Uncus prairiensis have been found in the Hell Creek Formation, located in the US state of Montana. Unfortunately, researchers have not been able to find complete skeletons – it must have been over millions of years that the bones were scattered over the area or simply decomposed. But scientists have found three claws, which clearly belonged to individuals of different ages. The researchers are confident of this because the alvarezsauridae had only one claw on each front paw. In addition, the found remains were of different sizes and structures.
Formation is a term used in geology to refer to lands formed at the same time interval.
It is important to note that the name Trierarch Uncus prairiensis was given to the new dinosaur for a reason. From Greek, the word “trierarch” can be translated as “captain of the ship”. And the word “uncus” in Latin means “hook”. According to scientists, the name can be beautifully translated as “Prairie Captain Hook.” And the prairie, for those who do not know, is one of the forms of the steppe in the USA and Canada.
According to a group of scientists led by paleontologist Denver Fowler (Denver Fowler), the discovered claws belonged to juveniles and adults. After studying their structure, the researchers concluded that the claws of young dinosaurs were smooth. With age, the grooves of the blood vessels in the claw area deepened more into the bones. In general, the claws of the adult “Captains of the Hooks” became more durable and rough. Whether feathered dinosaurs could defend themselves against predators with their claws is unknown. But one thing is clear – the forelegs were perfect for ruining nests.
The original scientific document reports that the new dinosaur species had many tiny but sharp teeth. According to them, with the help of them, they ate various insects. But how scientists know about the presence of many teeth is not clear – the message says only about the finding of claws. If they really managed to find the remains of the teeth, it would be interesting to look at the photos. However, they probably made such a conclusion, given the body structure of other members of the Alvarezsauridae family. Previously, scientists were able to find skulls and other body parts of ancient animals.
Some scientists believe that Alvarezsauridae are among the very first birds in the world. Several factors hint at this:
- their bodies were covered with feathers;
- they were small in size;
- they liked bugs and other insects for food.
And what, indeed, is very similar to modern birds – if it were discovered that they knew how to whistle or crow, then there would be no doubt. And so, there are doubts about the belonging of feathered dinosaurs to birds. Some researchers are confident that they are dealing with primitive species of Ornithomimosauria, which scientists call “bird-like dinosaurs.”
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