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An oviraptor with lots of teeth?
"Rabbit-like dinosaurs once roamed China"
September 18, 2002 Posted: 1456 GMT
In March 2001, over 100 dinosaur footprints were found in China's Gansu
BALTIMORE, Maryland (AP) -- A bucktoothed, rabbit-like dinosaur related to
Tyrannosaurus Rex [sic] and other predators lived in China 128 million years
ago, researchers report.
The fossil of the unusual Incisivosaurus was found in the Yixian formation
near Beipiao City in northeast China, an area that has already produced many
unusual fossils, including dinosaurs with feathers.
Incisivosaurus is part of a group of dinosaurs known as oviraptors, small
two-legged dinosaurs that had parrot-like beaks. Incisivosaurus, however,
is the oldest oviraptor found to date and lacks [!] the bird-like features
found in others of its group, the researchers report in Thursday's issue of
the journal Nature.
Instead of having a beak, Incisivosaurus has a long skull and jaws filled
with teeth for grinding. However, in its most unusual characteristic, it
sports two large buck teeth at the front of its jaw similar to those used by
rodents for gnawing.
The bucked teeth suggest the dinosaur was an herbivore rather than a
meat-eater like its relatives, reported Xing Xu and colleagues at the
Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Other paleontologists said bucked teeth alone do not mean Incisivosaurus was
a plant-eater. But they said the discovery shakes up the traditional view of
theropod dinosaurs, which are widely assumed to have long, sharp teeth.
"The classic view of predatory dinosaur (theropod) teeth is that they are
all basically the same and are shaped more or less like serrated steak
knives,"said geologist Joshua Smith of Washington University in St. Louis.
"However, it is becoming more and more obvious as we begin to look closely
at theropod teeth that they are far more complex than we have been led to
believe and that the steak-knife view isn't accurate. This is true of
Tyrannosaurus, and with new discoveries like Masiakasaurus last year in
Madagascar and now Incisivosaurus in China, it is becoming apparent that it
is true of other theropods as well."
The size of the teeth in the fossil vary widely. The front teeth appear two
to three times longer than teeth further back, which is almost unheard of,
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