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Newly discovered birdlike dinosaur is oldest raptor ever found in South America

s of an analysis of evolutionary relationships of advanced theropods undertaken as part of this research indicate that the Gondwanan dromaeosaurs and Rahonavis, an animal previously considered to be a very primitive bird, actually constitute a separate branch of the dromaeosaurid family tree. This branch is distinct from Velociraptor and other Laurasian dromaeosaurids, including some of the famous feathered dinosaurs from China.

Because Rahonavis has long and wing-like forelimbs, this finding could imply that flight may have evolved twice, once in birds and once among this group of Gondwanan dromaeosaurs. This evolutionary research is part of a larger, ongoing project to assemble the evolutionary family tree of dinosaurs (including birds), and their relatives, by a team of scientists that includes Makovicky and is funded by the National Science Foundation.

Remarkably different dinosaur

Buitreraptor (bwee-tree-rap-tor) is about the size of a very large rooster, but with a long head and very long tail. It is the most complete small theropod (carnivorous dinosaur) ever discovered in South America.

Buitreraptor is remarkably different than other domaeosaurs, most obviously due to its long, slender snout and relatively small, widely spaced teeth. Unlike most other theropods, the teeth of Buitrearaptor lack the steak-knife-like serrations along their edges. Although scientist are unsure why the animal evolved such peculiar head proportions and unusual dentition, it may have been an adaptation to hunt small prey, such as the abundant burrowing snakes, mammals, and lizards that have been discovered alongside Buitreraptor.

The remarkable dinosaur was discovered in northwestern Patagonia about 700 miles southwest of Buenos Aires. Although Buitreraptor is rather small, the paleontological team needed 10 days to chisel out the 800-pound slab of rock containing the fossil, which was subsequently prepared at the Museo Argentino d
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Source:Field Museum


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