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Introducing Mahakala omnogovae, little dromaeosaurid of Mongolia



The newest dinosaur is Mahakala omnogovae (genus name is Sanskrit for one of
the eight protector deities (dharmapalas) in Tibetan Buddhism; trivial nomen
is from the province of Mongolia).

Turner, A.H., D. Pol, J.A. Clarke,3, G.M. Erickson, M.A. Norell. 2007. A
Basal Dromaeosaurid and Size Evolution Preceding Avian Flight. Science
317:1378-1381.

At approximately 70 cm long, it is similar in size to Archaeopteryx, Mei,
Microraptor zhaoianus, and the like. (It is a near-adult, based on the
degree of neurocentral and tarsal fusion and histological sampling).

Material consists of partial skull and various postcranial elements. It is
from the Djadokhta Fm.

Inclusion of the data into the latest AMNH Theropod working group matrix
reveals it to be the basalmost dromaeosaurid, despite its age. More derived
dromaeosaurids are better resolved phylogenetically than earlier versions of
this matrix: a clade comprised of Unenlagiinae (Shanag + Buitreraptor +
(Rahonavis + Unenlagia)) + Sinornithosaurus + Microraptorinae (Microraptor
gui + Microraptor zhaoianus + Graciliraptor), and a clade of "classic
dromaeosaurids": Velociraptorinae (Tsaagan + (Saurornitholestes +
(Velociraptor + Deinonychus))) + Dromaeosaurinae (Adasaurus + Dromaeosaurus
+ (Achillobator + Utahraptor)).

Dromaeosauridae is sister group to Troodontidae (including a basal split
between Mei + Sinovenator and Jinfengopteryx + everything else).

Avialae in this analysis includes an Archaeopteryx + Jeholornis clade.

Given the size of the basal members of each clade ((Archaeopteryx +
Jeholornis) + Pygostylia);  (Mei + Sinovenator) + Jinfengopteryx; Mahalaka),
the basal eumaniraptoran would seem to be a small Archaeopteryx-sized
critter.

Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
Email: tholtz@umd.edu   Phone: 301-405-4084
Office: Centreville 1216                        
Senior Lecturer, Vertebrate Paleontology
Dept. of Geology, University of Maryland
http://www.geol.umd.edu/~tholtz/
Fax: 301-314-9661               

Faculty Director, Earth, Life & Time Program, College Park Scholars
http://www.geol.umd.edu/~jmerck/eltsite/
Fax: 301-405-0796

Mailing Address:        Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
                        Department of Geology
                        Building 237, Room 1117
                        University of Maryland
                        College Park, MD 20742 USA