The Mongolian fossil is the first known species of non-avian streamlined theropod dinosaur to walk on two legs.

Reconstruction of the life of Natovenator polydontus. Credit: Yusik Choi

A team of researchers from Seoul National University, the University of Alberta and the Mongolian Academy of Sciences has identified the first known example of a non-avian, streamlined theropod dinosaur walking on two legs. In his article published in Communications Biologythe group describes where the fossil was found, its condition, and the characteristics that were used to help identify it as a new species of dinosaur.

The dinosaur was excavated from the Hermiin Tsav Fossil Formation in Mongolia in 2008 as part of the Korea-Mongolia International Dinosaur Expedition. Since then, it has been stored with hundreds of other fossils awaiting study by experts.

In their study of the fossil, the researchers found it to be well-preserved and almost complete: it had most of its two hind legs, one of its front legs, most of its skull, and most of its vertebral column. He also had a mouth full of teeth. The researchers noted that the skeleton had a shape similar to many modern waterfowl, graceful and elegant, suggesting that it lived in or near water and survived by deep-sea fishing.

The researchers also noted that its ribs pointed toward the tail, another common feature of waterfowl. But it was not avian, there were no signs of wings. The researchers also noted that the general shape of the skeleton strongly suggested that it did not use its forelimbs for walking, likely giving it a penguin-like gait.

Their findings suggest that the dinosaur belonged to the theropod family and had not been identified before; therefore, it represented a newly discovered species. They named it Natovenator polydontus, which roughly translates to “many-toothed, swimming hunter.” They suggest that it also looked more like Halszkaraptor, another non-avian dinosaur that also lived in what is now Mongolia.

The dinosaur was found in a rock formation dating to the Late Cretaceous, which places it between approximately 100 and 66 million years ago. The researchers suggest that it adapted to a semi-aquatic lifestyle similar to that of modern waterfowl, although its large number of teeth suggests that it had a more varied diet.

More information:
Sungjin Lee et al, A non-avian dinosaur with a streamlined body exhibits potential adaptations for swimming, Communications Biology (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s42003-022-04119-9

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Citation: Mongolian Fossil is the First Known Species of Streamlined Non-avian Theropod Dinosaur to Walk on Two Legs (Dec 2, 2022) Retrieved Dec 2, 2022 from -fossil-species- non-avian-theropod.html

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