Scientists have unearthed the skeleton of a small bird-like dinosaur from the late Cretaceous period, which was curled up in a “coil”, which resembles the sleeping position of modern birds.
This is reported by CNN with reference to a study published in the scientific journal PLOS One.
In the Gobi desert, located in the Barun Goyot formation in Mongolia, a group of Japanese-Mongolian paleontologists unearthed the skull and almost an entire skeleton of a bird-like dinosaur.
Its bones were in the position in which the animal had died – the long neck wrapped around the right side of the body, the head pressed to the side, the hind limbs folded under the body, most of the tail curled around the left side.
|Illustration of the pose in which fossils of a bird-like dinosaur were found. Photo: Seiji Yamamoto|
Scientists have established that it is an Alvarezosaurus. It belongs to the theropods – dinosaurs with a long tail and hind limbs, but short front ones. Alvarezsaurs are part of the group of maniraptors – birds and bird-like dinosaurs.
Scientists named the found Alvarezosaurus Jaculinykus yaruui. He lived for about 70 million years. The length of the dinosaur from the nose to the tip of the tail was a little more than 1 meter.
The pose of the Alvarezosaurus found is similar to the other two fossils found in Mongolia, Sinornithoides youngi and Mei long. They were also found rolled up. These dinosaurs are troodontids that belong to the maniraptor family.
|Alvaresaurus remains found. Photo: PLOS One|
This posture helps modern birds to keep warm. Paleontologists suggest that maniraptorans had a similar purpose when they curled up.
In the process of evolution, alvaresaurus decreased in size. This probably led them to adopt the same thermoregulatory strategy used by their avian relatives.
“Jaculinykus is an important example of Alvarezsaurs being more similar to living birds – not only in osteological features, but also in behavioral traits,” – said co-author of the study Kohta Kubo.
It will be recalled that scientists have established that dinosaurs died out due to climate change caused by the fall of an asteroid.
Read also: Why are children so fond of dinosaurs and what is the benefit of this? We explain