One-fingered dinosaur fossil found

LONDON, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- The fossil of a previously unknown species of dinosaur no bigger than a parrot has been discovered in Mongolia, researchers say.

Researchers at University College London say the dinosaur, which sported just one finger on each hand, belongs to a branch of the carnivorous dinosaur group Theropoda, which gave rise to modern birds and included well-known dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus and Velociraptor, a university release reported Monday.


An international team of paleontologists found the fossil in rocks near the border between Mongolia and China that date to 75 million to 84 million years ago.

The dinosaur, dubbed Linhenykus monodactylus after the nearby city of Linhe, probably grew to no more than a couple of feet tall, and was unusual in having just one large claw -- which may have been used to dig into insect nests -- on each of its hands.

"Non-avian theropods start with five fingers but evolved to have only three fingers in later forms," Michael Pittman of the university's Department of Earth Sciences, the lead discoverer of the specimen, said.

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


The discovery was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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