Monday, January 24, 2011

One Fingered Dinosaur

A team of scientists have dug up the first dinosaur ever known to have only one finger. They found the skeletal remains embedded in an 80 million year old rock formation in Inner Mongolia, China. The dinosaur, named Linhenykus monodactylus, was roughly one meter tall and belongs to the alvarezsauroids family of dinosaurs, a group whose members were previously thought to be flightless birds.

It is well known that carnivorous dinosaurs kept losing fingers as they evolved over their ~160 million year existence. The earliest meat eaters had five fingers, while later species had four or three. Even the infamous and highly popularized Tyrannosaurus Rex only had two fingers. The researchers believe that Linhenykus monodactylus likely adapted to have just one claw-like digit for digging purposes, perhaps to specialize in retrieving certain insects. The findings have been published in the most recent release from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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