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Re: Smallest carnivorous non-avian theropod



Adam Yates wrote:

> Caudipteryx MIGHT be excluded from the list because it is not definately a
> carnivore. I wonder if Phil Currie is doing some sort of microscopic
> investigation of the gut area. If it was an herbivore I would expect to find
> a mass of plant cuticles amongst the gastroliths. It would be cool to
> finally find out what Oviraptors were really eating.

Yes, but let's not forget that two hatchling _Velociraptor_ skulls were found in
association with an oviraptorid nest in Mongolia, and this has been taken to
suggest that the parent was feeding the baby dromaeosaurs to its young, although
there is always room for other explanations, I suppose.  These animals may have
been omnivores, and it is also likely that different genera had somewhat
different diets (particularly in light of the Mongolian varieties having teeth
-- or something like teeth -- in the roof of the mouth, but no bristle-like
teeth contiguous with the rhamphotheca).  Gregory S. Paul also states in PDW
that _Oviraptor_ had a rather dicynodont-like jaw joint which would have
facilitated back-and-forth articulation.  It has been pointed out that these
animals were larger -- and I would certainly think more massive -- than the
compsognathids.

No one has mentioned _Saltopus elginensis_, probably because the remains are in
such poor shape that it is not known whether this was a theropod or not, whether
it was actually a dinosaur, nor whether it was juvenile or full grown.  IF it
was a full grown theropod, it was definitely smaller than the known
compsognathids.  (The femur length is 48 mm; full length MAY have been about 60
cm <24 inches> or so).

-- Ralph "always grateful for corrections" W. Miller III       gbabcock@best.com