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Fossils: Related dinosaurs from far afield

Scientific Reports

July 2, 2015

A new dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous period has been discovered in the Jiangxi Province of southern China and is detailed in Scientific Reports this week. The new species of oviraptorosaur most closely resembles a species found in Mongolia, suggesting that this group of dinosaurs were widely spread across Asia.

Oviraptorosaurs are a group of feathered dinosaurs from the Cretaceous period of what are now Asia and North America. The group, ranging from turkey sized to eight metres long, are characterised by short, beaked skulls, with and without bony crests atop their heads.

The new species, Huanansaurus ganzhouensis, unearthed at the construction site of the Ganzhou railway station is distinct from other reported oviraptorosaurs from the Nanxiong Formation of southern China. Like other oviraptorosaurs, Huanansaurus had a crest on top of its skull, but has a different jaw structure suggesting a difference in foraging strategies.

In a phylogenetic analysis, Junchang Lu and colleagues show that this new species is most closely related to the oviraptorid Citipati osmolskae discovered in the Omnogovi province of southern Mongolia. Due to the similarities between the two species, despite being separated by approximately 3,000km, the authors suggest that similar habitats must have existed across Asia at the end of the Mesozoic era which allowed oviraptorids to flourish.

doi: 10.1038/srep11490

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