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It's Mei day!!



Greetings,

The latest Yixian theropod to be published is _Mei long_. That's right, the
genus name is _Mei_: I don't know if there are any two-letter bird generic
names, but this is definitely the shortest non-avian dinosaur genus name!

The paper is:
Xu X. & M.A. Norell. 2004. A new troodontid dinosaur from China with
avian-like sleeping posture. Nature 431:838-841.

"mei" is Chinese "to sleep soundly"; "long" is of course "dragon".

_Mei_ is only 53 cm long: _Archaeopteryx_ or _Microraptor_ size. However,
lack of neurocentral fusion shows that it wasn't an adult. It is nearly
complete.

As in Mononykinae and birds there is no ascending process of the jugal for
the postorbital. It may have had a prokinetic skull. It has a little "baby
face" (tiny snout): this might be ontogenetic.

Their analysis places a _Mei_ + _Sinovenator_ clade at the base of
Troodontidae, with troodontids and dromaeosaurids as deinonychosaurs.

The specimen is from the Lujiatun Beds in the Yixian, a tuffaceous
conglomerate debris flow: so no integument is preserved (bummer) but it is
nicely preserved in 3-D (cool). The posture is similar to that in
_Sinornithoides_ but it is better preserved.

Very cool, and very cute.

                Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
                Vertebrate Paleontologist
Department of Geology           Director, Earth, Life & Time Program
University of Maryland          College Park Scholars
        Mailing Address:
                Building 237, Room 1117
                College Park, MD  20742

http://www.geol.umd.edu/~tholtz/
http://www.geol.umd.edu/~jmerck/eltsite
Phone:  301-405-4084    Email:  tholtz@geol.umd.edu
Fax (Geol):  301-314-9661       Fax (CPS-ELT): 301-405-0796