March 19, 2010

New Velociraptor Relative Discovered

A new species of dinosaur that was a close relative of the Velociraptor has been discovered by two Ph. D. candidates, a pair of press releases announced Friday.

Remains of the species, which has been named Linheraptor exquisitus, were uncovered by University College London (UCL) student Michael Pittman and George Washington University (GW) student Jonah Choiniere in the Gobi desert region of Mongolia. The find included a nearly complete skeleton that was said to be well preserved.

"I only saw the tip of the claw sticking out of a cliff face, and it was a total surprise that the whole skeleton was buried deeper in the rock," Choiniere said in a media report released by George Washington University. "This fossil is going to tell us a lot about the evolution of the skeleton in the group that includes Velociraptor."

"Jonah saw a claw protruding from the cliff face. He carefully removed it and handed it to me," added Pittman in a separate statement from UCL. "We went through its features silently but he wanted my identification first. I told him it was from a carnivorous dinosaur and when he agreed I'm surprised nobody in London heard us shouting,"

Linheraptor exquisitus is believed to have been approximately eight feet long and weighed roughly 50 pounds. Those who studied the remains claim that the dinosaur would have been quick and agile, and likely would have preyed on small horned dinosaurs, thanks in part to its large clawed feet.

Research on the remains was led by Xu Xing of the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology. It was published in the March 19, 2010 issue of Zootaxa journal for zoological taxonomists.

Image: Reconstruction of Linheraptor by Matt van Rooijen


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