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"Sleeping dragon" links dinosaurs to birds



Read about the discovery of a nearly complete, three dimensionally preserved, 53 cm (20 inch) long immature troodontid, _Mei long_, preserved in a stereotypical avialan sleeping posture:

http://www.nature.com/news/2004/041011/full/041011-7.html
http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20041013/sc_nm/science_dinosaur_dc_1
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3740456.stm
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6239811/
http://www.swissinfo.org/sen/swissinfo.html?siteSect=143&sid=5272971

     Nature 431, 838 - 841 (14 October 2004); doi:10.1038/nature02898



A new troodontid dinosaur from China with avian-like sleeping posture

XING XU1,2 AND MARK A. NORELL2

1 Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology & Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, PO Box 643, Beijing 100044, China
2 American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th Street, New York City, New York 10024, USA



Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to X.X. (xu@amnh.org or xingxu@vip.sina.com).





Discovering evidence of behaviour in fossilized vertebrates is rare. Even rarer is evidence of behaviour in non-avialan dinosaurs that directly relates to stereotypical behaviour seen in extant birds (avians) and not previously predicted in non-avialan dinosaurs. Here we report the discovery of a new troodontid taxon from the Early Cretaceous Yixian Formation of western Liaoning, China. Numerous other three-dimensionally preserved vertebrate fossils have been recovered recently at this locality, including some specimens preserving behavioural information. The new troodontid preserves several features that have been implicated in avialan origins. Notably, the specimen is preserved in the stereotypical sleeping or resting posture found in extant Aves. Evidence of this behaviour outside of the crown group Aves further demonstrates that many bird features occurred early in dinosaurian evolution.


--------
"Dino Guy" Ralph W. Miller III
Docent at the California Academy of Sciences
proud member of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology
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