One-fingered dinosaur unearthed in China

January 25th, 2011 - 2:22 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Jan 25 (IANS) A dinosaur fossil with a single large claw on each hand has been unearthed in China.Scientists believe the two-foot tall Linhenykus monodactylus, weighing as much as a large parrot, may have used its dino-digits to dig into insect nests.

The biped creature belonged to the alvarezsauroids, a branch of the ‘theropod’ family of carnivorous dinosaurs, the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reports.

Theropods gave rise to modern birds and included famous names such as T-rex and Velociraptor.

But researchers found Linhenykus had one striking feature not seen in any of its relatives, a single functional finger on each hand bearing a large claw, reports the Daily Mail.

Michael Pittman, from University College London said: “Non-avian theropods start with five fingers but evolved to have only three fingers in later forms.

“Tyrannosaurs were unusual in having just two fingers, but the one-fingered Linhenykus shows how extensive and complex theropod hand modifications really were.”

Co-author Jonah Choiniere, from the American Museum of National History in New York, said: “Vestigial structures, like legs in whales and snakes, may appear and disappear seemingly randomly in the course of evolution.”

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