More dinosaurs?

23 03 2007

Amazing fossils seem to be coming out of the ground at a breakneck pace, and indeed I am thankful that I seem to be alive during another golden age of prehistoric discovery. In fact, one of the “new” dinosaurs isn’t really that; it’s been known since at least 1993 but paleontologists haven’t been able to confirm that it was its own species until now (much like the Bornean Clouded Leopard recently in the news). That dromeosaurid is Tsaagan mangas, and you’ve probably already seen it; it graced the cover of the paperback edition of Discovering Dinosaurs at the American Museum of Natural History by Mark Norell.

But wait, there’s more! A second, small dromeosaurid primarily identified by what remained of its jaw has been described as well, and its name is Shanag ashile. Paleontologist Alan Turner has described it as being akin to Microraptor, but I don’t know enough about Shanag and how much was actually preserved to agree or disagree with the idea of it having an extra set of “wings” on its legs like Microraptor. In any event, hopefully China will continue to divulge its Mesozoic secrets for some time to come; every bone that is uncovered seems to tell us more about the complex story of evolution.


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