Fossil of giant, birdlike dinosaur found in China

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June 14, 2007 04:28

The remains of a giant, birdlike dinosaur as tall as the formidable tyrannosaur have been found in China, a surprising discovery that indicates a more complicated evolutionary process for birds than originally thought, scientists said. Fossilized bones uncovered in the Erlian Basin of northern China's Inner Mongolia region show that the specimen was about 8 meters in length, 5 meters tall and weighed 1,400 kilograms, Xu Xing, a paleontologist at the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology & Paleoanthropology in Beijing, said Wednesday. The height is comparable to the meat-eating tyrannosaurs, but the dinosaur, called Gigantoraptor elrianensis, also had a beak and slender legs and likely had feathers, making it 35 times larger than its likely close relation, the Caudiperyx, a small, feathered dinosaur species, Xu said. That puts the Gigantoraptor's existence at odds with prevailing theories that dinosaurs became smaller as they evolved into birds and that bigger dinosaurs have less birdlike characteristics, he said.


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