Scientists dig up remains of chicken-sized dinosaur

September 24th, 2008 - 11:54 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Sep 24 (IANS) Remains of an unusual chicken sized dinosaur, the smallest ever that darted on two legs looking for termites on the forest floor, has been dug up near Red Deer, Alberta in Canada.”These are bizarre animals. They have long and slender legs, stumpy arms with huge claws and tweezer-like jaws. They look like an animal created by Dr. Seuss,” said Nick Longrich, paleontology research associate at the department of bio-sciences, Calgary University.

Called Albertonykus borealis, the slender bird-like creature is a new member of the family Alvarezsauridae and is one of only a few such fossils found outside South America and Asia, reports Eurekalert.

In a report in the August edition of Cretaceous Research, Longrich and University of Alberta paleontologist Philip Currie described the specimen and explained how it it specialised in consuming termites by using its small but powerful forelimbs to tear into logs.

“Proportionately, the forelimbs are shorter than in a Tyrannosaurus but they are powerfully built, so they seem to have served a purpose,” Longrich said. “They are built for digging but too short to burrow, so we think they may have been used to rip open logs in search of insects.”

Longrich studied 70-million-year-old bones that were collected on a dig led by Currie at Dry Island Buffalo Jump Provincial Park in 2002 where the remains of more than 20 Albertosaurus sarcophagus individuals were found.

Albertosaurs were a type of tyrannosaur. The bones were placed in storage at the Royal Tyrrell Museum and Longrich came across them while trying to compare Albertosaurus claws to another dinosaur species.

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