Friday, August 8, 2014

Kulindadromeus Zabaikalicus: A Cute Little Dinosaur

Kulindadromeus zabaikalicus 100% accurate reconstruction by dimetrodone.That incredibly cute critter is what Kulindadromeus zabaikalicus might look like: in an Arisa manga comic.

Maybe someone will write the heartwarming tale of a Kulindadromeus — named Kuddly Zeke??

Or maybe not.

Dinosaur Feathers

Until paleontologists found Kulindadromeus, a dinosaur that lived where Siberia is now, scientists knew that some dinosaurs had feathers: but had only found them on theropods.

Scientists are still pretty sure that Coelurosaurs, a particular sort of theropod, are the distant ancestors of birds. Oddly enough, though: theropods have lizard-like hips, or did.

Kulindaromeus is an Ornithischian: one of the 'bird-hipped' dinosaurs. It wasn't, the Lemming understands, just feathers that pegged theropods as the dinosaurs that eventually gave the birdseed industry a reason for existence: and that's another topic.

As far as the Lemming knows, there is no "Sir Richard Owen Zoological gardens." Not yet, anyway. Richard Owen did, however, give Mesozoic reptiles a name: Dinosauria. That was before other scientists realized that they weren't, or weren't quite, reptiles, and that's yet another topic.

(From Chris Masna, via Department of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol; used w/o permission.)
("Kulindadromeus zabaikalicus reconstruction by Chris Masna, non-threatening occupant of the Sir Richard Owen Zoological Gardens."
(Dept. of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol))

And no, to the best of the Lemming's knowledge: nobody has found Kulinda DNA, or grown a live dinosaur. Not yet.

Seriously, Though: That's a Cute Dinosaur

(From Andrey Atuchin, via Deptartment of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol; used w/o permission.)
(Kulindadromeus zabaikalicus in its lakeside environment.)

"Kulindadromeus, the feathered ornithischian
Department of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol

"The first ever example of a plant-eating dinosaur with feathers and scales was reported from Russia in 2014. Previously only flesh-eating dinosaurs were known to have had feathers so this new find indicates that all dinosaurs could have been feathered. This has important implications for our understanding of the biology and success of dinosaurs and for the evolution of bird characters.

"The new dinosaur, named Kulindadromeus zabaikalicus, meaning 'Kulinda runner from the Zabaikal region' as it comes from a site called Kulinda on the banks of the Olov River, in Zabaikal District, in Siberia, is described by Godefroit et al. (2014). Kulindadromeus shows epidermal scales on its tail and shins, and short bristles on its head and back. The most astonishing discovery, however, is that it also has complex, compound feathers associated with its arms and legs...."

The Lemming is pretty sure that an American would have written "...the evolution of bird characteristics...," or maybe the University of Bristol folks meant that the cute little ornithischian looks a bit like Tweety and The Road Runner. Then again, maybe not.

Not all scientists are sure that "Kulinda runner from the Zabaikal region" really had feathers. The stuff that apparently kept Kulindadromeus warm isn't shaped like bird feathers. Not the sort birds have these days, anyway.

Maybe the way scientists processed these Kulindadromeus fossils made the feathers look funny, or maybe feathers have changed in the last 150,000,000 years, or maybe some of Earth's critters grow hair or fur, some sprout feathers, and some kept warm with — something else.

If you haven't read enough about dinosaurs and all that yet, there's more:

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