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Dinosaur Genera List corrections #152



Tomorrow's issue of Nature describes a new small theropod dinosaur from 
China. The abstract is available for free at the Nature website

http://www.nature.com/nature/

but in case you don't have the time to go there and read it yourselves, I've 
taken the liberty of reproducing it here as part of the citation for this new 
genus.

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Nature 408, 705 - 708 (2000) © Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 

The smallest known non-avian theropod dinosaur

XING XU, ZHONGHE ZHOU & XIAOLIN WANG

Non-avian dinosaurs are mostly medium to large-sized animals, and to 
date all known mature specimens are larger than the most primitive bird, 
Archaeopteryx. Here we report on a new dromaeosaurid dinosaur, 
Microraptor zhaoianus gen. et sp. nov., from the Early Cretaceous 
Jiufotang Formation of Liaoning, China. This is the first mature 
non-avian dinosaur to be found that is smaller than Archaeopteryx, and 
it eliminates the size disparity between the earliest birds and their 
closest non-avian theropod relatives. The more bird-like teeth, the 
Rahonavis -like ischium and the small number of caudal vertebrae of 
Microraptor are unique among dromaeosaurids and improve our 
understanding of the morphological transition to birds. The nearly 
completely articulated foot shows features, such as distally positioned 
digit I, slender and recurved pedal claws, and elongated penultimate 
phalanges, that are comparable to those of arboreal birds. The discovery 
of these in non-avian theropods provides new insights for studying the 
palaeoecology of some bird-like theropod dinosaurs.

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Accordingly we add genus #896 to the Dinosaur Genera List:

Microraptor Xu, Zhou & Wang, 2000

and to the list of Asiatic dinosaurs in the as-yet-unpublished second 
printing of Mesozoic Meanderings #3 we add

Microraptor Xu, Zhou & Wang, 2000
    M. zhaoianus Xu, Zhou & Wang, 2000

Nice to see that at long last we're beginning to find small, arboreal 
dinobirds. Now if only they would turn up in pre-Archaeopteryx strata.