Munich researchers dig out some new dinosaur stories

Sciurumimus  under UV light. Photo credits: Helmut TischlingerTo begin with, we have a new species of a feathered dinosaur unearthed from Painten, Bavaria. Previous fossils from predatory feathered dinosaurs, such as the famous Archaeopteryx, all belonged to a group called coelurosaurs, which birds were evolutionarily derived from and closely related to. In contrast, this new juvenile specimen represents the first fossil of a non-coelurosaur, belonging to a more ancestral lineage of dinosaurs, and it is also one of the most complete and best preserved fossil of this group of dinosaurs ever found. Dr. Oliver Rauhut and colleagues, from the Bavarian paleontological and geological collections, named the new species Sciurumimus because of its bushy tail, which resembles the tail of modern tree squirrels of the genus Sciurus.

Sciurumimus is described as having had a large skull, short hind limbs, and smooth skin with fine, long, hair-like filamentous feathers right under the belly, and on the upper side of the tail, which could mean the entire body was feather-covered.

Southern Hemisphere adds more to the mix

And in a second exciting discovery Dr. Rauhut, in collaboration with Dr. Diego Pol, from the Egidio Feruglio Paleontological Museum, in Argentina, report on a new Jurassic fossil of the abelisaurid dinosaur group, a group of very diverse and geographically wide-ranging dinosaurs that lived during the Cretaceous Period. Abelisaurids are relatives of the perennial favorite Tyrannosaurus rex, and the fact that abelisaurids had even shorter arms than T. rex, did not prevent them from being the dominant predators throughout Patagonia and other areas in the Southern hemisphere.

Dr. Rauhut and Dr. Pol named their fossil Eoabelisaurus mefi, after Egidio Feruglio, founder of the Paleontological Museum in Argentina. The new species, 40 million years older than any previously discovered abelisaurid, suggest that arm reduction in abelisaurid/tyrannosaurids occurred early in their evolutionary history of these groups. This fossil is of critical importance because few predatory dinosaur fossils have been discovered in the Southern hemisphere. Dr. Rauhut and Dr. Pol hope to improve our knowledge of Jurassic dinosaur evolution from the Northern Hemisphere fossils with more exciting new fossils from the Southern Hemisphere such as Eoabelisaurus mefi.
Eoabelisaurus mefi, during the reconstruction work. Photo credits: Helmut Tischlinger. On the upper right, photo of Oliver Rauhut.
Original articles:
Exceptionally preserved juvenile megalosauroid theropod dinosaur with filamentous integument from the Late Jurassic of Germany. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1203238109
A Middle Jurassic abelisaurid from Patagonia and the early diversification of theropod dinosaurs
DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2012.0660


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