October 21, 2009

Bones Of Smallest North American Dinosaur Identified

Scientists said Tuesday that fossil bones held at a Los Angeles museum belong to the smallest dinosaur discovered in North America, The Associated Press reported.

The miniscule dino weighed in at less than two pounds and stood a mere 4 inches tall.

Luis Chiappe, director of the Dinosaur Institute of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County where the fossil bones are stored, said from head to tail, it measured a little over 2 feet long.

"It would have looked like a roadrunner on steroids," Chiappe said.

Experts said it likely ate plants and hunted bugs during the late Jurassic period, about 150 million years ago. Researchers believe it was so tiny and fast that it probably darted between the legs of larger dinosaurs.

Diggers in Fruita in western Colorado discovered the bones of four individuals - including skull, arm and leg fragments - over three decades ago and housed them at the museum.

The dinosaur was named Fruitadens haagarorum, which incorporates where the bones were found and the name of the president of the museum's board of trustees, Paul Haaga.

A description of the work done by Chiappe and an international team was published Wednesday in the British journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

Canadian researchers reported earlier this year that a chicken-sized dinosaur weighing in at 4-to-5 pounds was the smallest meat-eating dinosaur yet discovered in North America.


Image Caption: A reconstruction of the Fruitadens. Courtesy of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County Dinosaur Institute. Reconstruction by Doyle Trankina, NHM Dinosaur Institute Image Credit: NHM Dinosaur Institute


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