Tuesday, March 30, 2010

You're Thwarting My Attempt at an Alliterative Greeting, Xixianykus!

Hot on the heels of Haplocheirus, another new alvarezsaur has been announced: Xixianykus zhangyi. As you might guess by the name, it's another gift from the Mesozoic strata of China, and the first chinese alvarezsaur. Paleontologists led by Xing Xu of the Chinese Academy of Sciences announced the finding this week in the journal Zootaxa.


Xixianykus zhangyi by Matt Van Rooijen, used with the artist's kind permission.

Besides adding to our knowledge of the strange and wonderful alvarezsaurs, X. zhangyi is remarkable among theropods in general for its specialized adaptations for running. For a small critter like this - about the size of a small dog - the ability to dart around at high speed would have had obvious value. In Matt Van Rooijen's fine reconstruction, Xixianykus has been given cryptic coloring, and I can see the bugger scurrying away into the underbrush, where it would be well hidden from predators.

For more, you can head over to Archosaur Musings; Dave Hone is also one of the authors on the paper.

3 comments:

  1. I used to not care much for the alvarezsaurs, but these recent discoveries are changing that.

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