Sunday 20 May 2012

New species of Dromaeosaur from the Early Cretaceous of Utah.

Dromaeosaurs were small Therapod Dinosaurs, thought to have been the group most closely related to the  birds. They had a distinctive enlarged and curved claw on the second toe of their hind feet that has earned them the nick-name 'raptors', and many of the group are known to have been feathered. Most Dromaeosaurs were small in size, some under a meter, though there were larger members of the group.

In a paper published in the journal PLoS One on 15 May 2012, a team of scientists led by Phil Senter of the Department of Biological Sciences at Fayetteville State University describe a new species of Dromaeosaur from the Early Cretaceous (Barremian-Aptian) Cedar Mountain Formation of the Arches National Park in Utah. The team also describe two other partial specimens that may represent new taxa, but which are not well enough preserved to allow the formal naming of species from them.

The new species is named as Yurgovuchia doellingi; from yurgovuch, the Ute word for Coyote (the animal is roughly Coyote size) and in honour of Helmut Doelling of the Utah Geological Survey. It is named from a selection of vertebra and a partial pubis.

Reconstruction of Yurgovuchia doellingi, from the available material. Cat for scale only. Senter et al. (2012).

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