Fossil of oldest known dinosaur found
China has unearthed the fossil of a dinosaur that lived 160 million years ago. Researchers have identified it as the earliest known member of a long lineage that includes birds.india Updated: Jan 30, 2010 17:10 IST
China has unearthed the fossil of a two-legged carnivorous dinosaur that lived 160 million years ago and which researchers have identified as the earliest known member of a long lineage that includes birds.
The ‘Haplocheirus sollers’ had a long, narrow skull, many small teeth and powerful biceps and forelimbs, which enabled it to hunt primitive lizards, small mammals and reptiles.
The individual, believed to be a young adult when it died, had a long tail and a total body length of between 190 and 230 cm, the researchers wrote in a paper published in the journal Science.
It was found in orange mudstone beds in the Junggar Basin in China’s far western Xinjiang region. “It has unique features but it shares some features with birds. It moves its hands sideways, like how birds can fold their wings. Its head, vertebral column, hind limbs, hands are all bird like,” said Professor Xu Xing at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology & Paleonanthropology. “Their legs have four digits like modern birds, with three digits pointing forwards. The first digit, unlike in birds which point backwards, this one points sideways,” he said.