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Oryctodromeus (was Re: Alvarezsaur spurs (was Re: dino-lice))

Jason Brougham <jaseb@amnh.org> wrote:

> Until Varricchio described Oryctodromeus we might have said "non-avian
> dinosaurs didn't dig burrows" but now there is a probable exception to
> that rule.

There is even the possibility that relatives of _Oryctodromeus_ might
have been fossorial insectivores (or at least omnivores that fed on
both plants and invertebrates).  We don't know how specialized this
group of digging ornithopods ("zephyrosaurs", let's call them) became.
 The zephyrosaur _Koreanosaurus_ has been interpreted as a quadruped,
and the skull is so far unknown - maybe it was the dinosaurian
equivalent of an aardvark?  I don't want to overstate this, but in
some ways these zephyrosaurs remind me of the fossil omnivorous
aardvark (tubulidentatan) _Leptorycteropus_: somewhat undersized,
relatively unspecialized for fossoriality/myrmecophagy, and more
cursorial than the modern aardvark.  Here's an example of the
trade-off between cursoriality and fossoriality in quadrupeds:
improved digging abilities come at the expense of speed on the ground.
 This might have been what happened with "zephyrosaurs", if this is
the path they took.