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Feathered saurians -- downy dinosaur discovered
Date:7/3/2012

am led by Rauhut has been able to show, the new specimen represents a young megalosaur. The genus name Sciurumimus means "squirrel-like" and refers to the animal's bushy tail, while the species designation albersdoerferi honors the private collector who made the fossil available for scientific study. "When the skeleton was irradiated with UV light, we were able to discern fragments of the skin and the plumage as fluorescent spots and filaments," says co-author Dr. Helmut Tischlinger.

Cute little dino kids

The juvenile Sciurumimus tells us even more. For instance, as in the case of other dinosaurs, its eyes were proportionately much larger than those of adult animals. In other words, young dinosaurs conformed to the "babyface" model. Secondly, it has long been suspected that not just the form of a dinosaur's face, but also its whole mode of life, was subject to change during lifetime. "And indeed, this individual has a very different set of teeth from those found in adult megalosaurs," says Rauhut. "That enables us to conclude that their diets also changed as they got older."

The young Sciurumimus, with its slender, pointed teeth probably preyed on insects and small animals. Fully grown megalosaurs, on the other hand, often exceeded 6 m in length and may have weighed more than a ton, and could give other large dinosaurs a good run for their money. That may also be true of the new species. "We know that dinosaurs were able to grow at terrific rates; diminutive hatchlings could reach adult lengths of several meters," Rauhut points out. "And even if they might have looked fluffy, they were certainly among the top predators in the food chain." (suwe)


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Contact: Dr. Kathrin Bilgeri
kathrin.bilgeri@lmu.de
49-892-180-6938
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitt Mnchen
Source:Eurekalert

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