Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Gigantoraptor erlianensis

I love dinosaur news days: I just got this from the National Geographic news site: Massive Birdlike Dinosaur Unearthed in China. Gigantoraptor erlianensis!


This is great because while the fossil didn't preserve feathers, closely related species have been shown to have them so it seems reasonable to infer that this species did too. Having a "very birdlike appearance", it was over 16 feet tall. This makes the evolution from dinosaur to modern birds more intriguing, since it is the biggest "birdlike dinosaur" yet uncovered and raises questions about the role that size reduction played in that evolutionary pathway.

Another thought I had was that it also gives more evidence that feathers were a preadaptation for flight and that flying was not their first function, this dinosaur obviously wasn't going anywhere. Of course it is possible that it is secondarily flightless, the flight issue wasn't addressed in the announcement, but once I get the paper I'll report back if it has any insights on that topic.

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