Friday, October 23, 2009

...And the Small Ones

Analysis out of Germany has identified the smallest known dinosaur. An article in the BBC notes:

Fruitadens haagarorum, researchers say, is one of the smallest dinosaurs known to science.

In the Royal Society journal Proceedings B, the researchers say that the dinosaur weighed less that 1kg.

The fossils have been housed at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County since being discovered in Colorado in 1979.

According to the researchers, the tiny dinosaur was agile and a fast runner. It lived in the Upper Jurassic period, about 150 million years ago.

It was a member of a group of dinosaurs called the ornithischians, which were largely plant-eating creatures that included the far more imposing Triceratops and Stegosaurus.

Here is the picture of the jaw from the BBC article:


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  1. From a paleontologist's perspective, did this small dinosaur die out in whatever caused the demise of dinosaurs? And did small mammals have an advantage over other creatures like this one during that period? Any reading material on this?

    Thanks! I learn so much from your posts!

  2. Amy, what seems to have happened is that there was a sudden (geologically speaking) cooling that killed off the vast majority of dinosaurs, including the medium to small ones and the only dinosaurs that survived were the ones that had already developed feathers for insulation. I do not know enough about Fruitadens haagarorum to be able to speculate on what killed the critter off. The small mammals already had an advantage because they were endothermic, unlike most of the dinosaurs that were (probably) ectothermic. Whether the precursors of modern birds were endothermic at this point is not known but they did, at least, have feathers. I will try to scram up some reading material.