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Thursday, May 05, 2005 

Killer dinosaurs turned vegetarian

A new type of feathered dinosaur tells us more about how primitive, vicious carnivores evolved into peaceable vegetarians, US scientists say.

The birdlike dinosaur fossils unearthed in Utah may be a missing link that sheds light on how diet evolved, the researchers write in today's issue of the journal Nature.

The 125-million-year-old fossils show features of two-legged carnivorous dinosaurs called maniraptorans, from which birds are believed to have evolved.

The fossils also have leaf-shaped teeth, stubby legs and the expansive bellies of plant-eaters.

The new species is named Falcarius utahensis, meaning "sickle-maker from Utah".

"Falcarius is literally a missing link," says Assistant Professor Scott Sampson, chief curator at the Utah Museum of Natural History.

"Falcarius is kind of half-raptor and half-herbivore. This transition is triggered by a shift in diet."

He says it appeared at around the time that tasty, nutritious, flowering plants appeared on Earth.

"We know that the first dinosaur was a small-bodied, lightly built, fleet-footed predator," Sampson adds. All other dinosaurs evolved from it.

"However, as with many radiations of major groups of animals, it happened so quickly that we really don't have much in the way of fossil documentation."

Falcarius provides part of the picture, he says.

The adult Falcarius would have walked on two legs and was about 4 metres long and 1.4 metres tall.

It had strong forearms, sharp, curved, 10 centimetre claws and a long neck. And it was probably covered with shaggy, hair-like "proto-feathers".

>> Read article



o&o

All the new discoveries concerning
dinosaurs are very interesting,to my nine years old son it's a wonder
and when he ask questions about them I have to search like mad,information on such a wide subject is not easy to find.
Ex: knowing a certain amount of matter coming from space reaches Earth every year, after 65 million
years,what would weight a sauropod that we estimate 10 tons, if it lived now-a-days?
I don't know the average amount of matter added to earth each year.
Thus I don't know if it's significant after 65 million years
If it's enough to increase earth's attraction, then that sauropod would be heavier,how much???
I feel bad not knowing.

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