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James Clark, The George Washington University's Ronald B. Weintraub Professor
of Biology, and
Xu Xing, of the Chinese Academy of Science's Institute of Vertebrate
Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing, have discovered a unique
beaked, plant-eating dinosaur in China. This finding demonstrates that
theropod, or bird-footed, dinosaurs were more ecologically diverse in the
Jurassic period than previously thought and offers important new evidence
about how the three-fingered hand of birds evolved from the hand of dinosaurs.
The discovery is featured in this week's edition of the journal Nature.
"This new animal is fascinating in and of itself, and when placed into an
evolutionary context it offers intriguing evidence about how the hand of birds
evolved," said Dr. Clark. Clark's graduate student, Jonah Choiniere, also was
involved in analyzing the new animal.
Dr. Xu, said, "This discovery is truly exciting, as it changes what we thought
we knew about the dinosaur hand. It also is amazing to bring conciliation
between the data from million-year-old bones and molecules of living birds."
Limusaurus inextricabilis (meaning "mire lizard who could not escape") was......