Sunday, August 19, 2012


Shuvuuia deserti
Meet Shuvuuia, a small Cretaceous Dinosaur that was most likely covered in a coat of feathers! The type fossil of the species was found with many deteriorated structures surrounding it, structures that were similar to the central shafts of modern bird feathers. Further analysis showed that these structures once contained beta-keratin, but not alpha-keratin, which gives further evidence towards a feathery coat (as only bird feathers have beta-keratin, but not alpha).

Aside from the feathers, Shuvuuia had a few other bird-like traits. Their skulls, legs, and feet were all very similar to those on birds, but their arms are not, leaving them still within the realm of the Dinosaurs.

Shuvuuia even has a bird name, literally! Their genus is named for the Mongolia word for bird, shuvuu, as the fossils were found in Mongolia. Shuvuuia dates back between 85 and 75 million years, putting it in the Late Cretaceous period.

These Dinosaurs were very small, standing only a foot or so high and having a full body length of 2-3ft. They probably ate insects and small mammals, and were most likely very quick on their feet. All that we know about Shuvuuia comes from only a few fossils, so there is still very much to be learned and uncovered!

Status : Extinct for around 75 million years
Location : Mongolia
Size : Length up to 2ft (60cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Reptilia -- clade : Dinosauria
Family : †Alvarezsauridae -- Genus : †Shuvuuia -- Species : †S. deserti

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