351 — New information on the cranial morphology of Avimimus (Theropoda: Oviraptorosauria)

Tsuihiji et al (10.1080/02724634.2017.1347177)

Read on 06 August 2018
#paleontology  #dinosaur  #skull  #oviraptorosaurian  #avian  #morphology  #Mongolia  #cretaceous  #Gobi 

I found this paper while eating a hard-boiled egg, so it seemed appropriate.

Avimimus portentosus is an oviraptorosaurian, a grouping of dinoaurs classically known for their birdlike features and the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern of The Land Before Time series. Also, apropos of nothing, I had no idea that they were still making those movies, but there was apparently another oviraptor in a 2016 film, and wait what Littlefoot’s father is revealed to be alive in the tenth movie of LBT made in 2003?! Okay. Looks like I got out while the getting was good. Ahem. I digress.

A new Avivimus specimen was unearthed in the Gobi in 2006, and Tsuihiji et al leveraged this new find in order to better understand the mophology of the species in life and death.

The researchers find that this specimen, while confirming many of the conclusions made by earlier studies, also demonstrates some deviations from otherwise birdlike features. In particular, differences in fusion of the cranial bones and the presence of a postorbital bar differentiate the species from more avian-like dinosaurs.

But many of the findings reinforce the birdiness of this animal; the muscle insertion points of the neck are very birdy, and the facial bone structure is very birdy too. But the authors caution against taking this similarity as fact: The anatomy of very diverse species can share close similarities despite being only very distantly related.