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Nothronychus graffami
Topic Started: Jan 12 2012, 02:02 PM (4,236 Views)
Taipan
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Nothronychus graffami

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Nothronychus graffami shown foraging in a mangrove forest near the shoreline 93 million years ago. A bull Zuniceratops is passing in the background.

Fossil range: Late Cretaceous

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Sauropsida
Superorder: Dinosauria
Order: Saurischia
Suborder: Theropoda
Superfamily: Therizinosauroidea
Genus: Nothronychus
Species: Nothronychus graffami

Nothronychus is a genus of dinosaur classified in the group Therizinosauria, strange theropods with a toothless beak, a bird-like hip (resembling the non-related ornithischians) and four-toed feet, with all four toes facing forward.

The name Nothronychus, derived from Greek meaning 'sloth-like claw', was selected because the animal reminded Kirkland of a giant ground sloth. It is the first example of therizinosaurs to be found in the Americas. Previous discoveries had been from China and Mongolia. Nothronychus was larger than Erlikosaurus or Segnosaurus but in some ways more primitive than these Asian relatives. A related dinosaur from a significantly earlier period, Falcarius utahensis, was discovered in Utah in 2005.

Physical Description
When alive, the animal would have stood at 13 feet (4 meters) and sported a beaked mouth and forelimbs tipped with 9 inch- (22 cm)-long sickle claws.

Discovery
The most complete skeleton of a type of pot-bellied dinosaur, a therizinosaur, has been discovered in southern Utah.

Such remains shed light on the evolution of leafy and meaty diets back in paleo times, suggesting that iconic predators like Velociraptor may have evolved from less fearsome plant-eating ancestors.

The newly discovered dinosaur, dubbed Nothronychus graffami, lived some 93 million years ago. When alive, the animal would have stood at 13 feet (4 meters) and sported a beaked mouth and forelimbs tipped with 9 inch- (22 cm)-long sickle claws.

Its stumpy legs, large gut and other features suggest the lumbering giant scarfed down plants rather than chasing after meaty prey.

"It takes a lot of gut-time to digest plants," said lead researcher Lindsay Zanno of the Field Museum in Chicago. "Plant eaters have to develop long digestive tracts to get the energy they need to survive."

Diet discovery

The dinosaur's physical features match up with other so-called therizinosaurs, a mysterious group of dinosaurs now thought to be a type of maniraptoran dinosaur, which share a common ancestor with birds (though the two groups split some 150 million years ago, during the Jurassic Period).

While most theropods, such as Tyrannosaurus rex and Velociraptor, were meat eaters, the therizinosaurs likely consumed plants.

To figure out how both carnivorous and herbivorous diets evolved in theropods, Zanno and her colleagues compared the anatomy of the newly discovered dinosaur with specimens from 75 other theropod species. In doing so, the team found that plant-eating therizinosaurs like N. graffami are the most ancient group of maniraptorans.

That meant plant-eating was around early in the evolution of maniraptorans.

Early plant eating

Several maniraptoran lineages show adaptations for plant-eating, including the beaked ornithomimosaurs (ostrich-dinosaurs) and oviraptorosaurs (egg-thieves). So the team looked at herbivorous and carnivorous features in a sample of maniraptorans, finding the earliest species may already have been at least flirting with the idea of plant-eating.

"Before this we thought that plant-eating theropods like therizinosaurs were a rare occurrence," Zanno told LiveScience. "We knew they must have evolved from meat-eaters somewhere in their ancestry, but before our study it seemed like plant-eating was the exception not the norm for maniraptoran theropods."

Rather than a rarity, Zanno and her colleagues discovered that eating plants exclusively or in combination with meat can be traced back to the origins of the maniraptoran group as a whole.

"Many lineages of maniraptoran dinosaurs likely ate some amount of plants as part of their diet, and they probably inherited this ability from the common ancestor of the whole group," Zanno said. "Thus, predatory maniraptoran dinosaurs like Velociraptor must have re-evolved exclusive meat-eating."

The researchers speculate this ability to nab veggies may have allowed maniraptorans to move into new niches and diversify in ways they couldn't when only meat was on the menu.

"Something happened early in the evolution of maniraptorans that is tied to their incredible diversity," Zanno said. "The ability to feed on much more than just meat may have been one of several key innovations contributing to their ultimate success."

http://www.livescience.com/animals/090714-clawed-dinosaur.html

Edited by Taipan, Dec 30 2013, 10:54 PM.
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Taipan
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New Dinosaur Had Potbelly, Claws Like Wolverine

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July 15, 2009--Don't let the Wolverine-like claws fool you. Unlike the X-men's most popular pugilist, this new dinosaur species was no predator, scientists say.

Dubbed Nothronychus graffami, the 13-foot-tall (4-meter-tall) therizinosaur (reconstructed skeleton pictured) lived about 92.5 million years ago in what is present-day Utah.

N. graffami's claw bones are 9 inches (23 centimeters) long. But in life, sheathed in hornlike keratin, the talons would have each been about a foot (30 centimeters) long, or about as long as the dinosaur's head.

In addition to its imposing claws—a therizinosaur trademark—the newfound dinosaur had a less-than-fearsome potbelly, a birdlike beak, stumpy legs, and a short tail, according to a report published online today by the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

N. graffami's leaf-shaped teeth and big belly suggest the animal was a plant-eater—so why the killer claws?

"We really don't know," said study team member Lindsay Zanno of the Field Museum in Chicago.

"There are some things we can rule out, such as digging. Other than that, the claws may have been used for defense, to forage for plants, or to attract mates."

As distant cousins of T. rex and Velociraptor, N. graffami and other therizinosaurs suggest that those predators may have plant-eaters in their ancestry, Zanno added.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/07/090715-dinosaur-claws-wolverine-picture.html
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SpinoInWonderland
The madness has come back...
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SpinoInWonderland
The madness has come back...
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dinosaur
Heterotrophic Organism
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A close relative of tyrannosaurus
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Vivyx
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Felines, sharks, birds, arthropods
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dinosaur
Mar 24 2013, 01:09 AM
A close relative of tyrannosaurus
How?
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dinosaur
Heterotrophic Organism
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Dog
Mar 24 2013, 03:19 AM
dinosaur
Mar 24 2013, 01:09 AM
A close relative of tyrannosaurus
How?


Listen to this.
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Ausar
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Xi-miqa-can! Xi-miqa-can! Xi-miqa-can!
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Dog
Mar 24 2013, 03:19 AM
dinosaur
Mar 24 2013, 01:09 AM
A close relative of tyrannosaurus
How?
Both are within Coelurosauria. Apparently there are a couple people here who don't know that.
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Jinfengopteryx
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Nah, I think most should today know that T-rex was closer related to a chicken than Allosaurus.
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theropod
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Relation between species cannt be measured. There is a lot of evolution between T. rex and a chicken, as there is between Allosaurus and T. rex. T. rex is within taxon with the chicken that allosaurus is not in, but how close they are related is a different question (for example, is eoraptor closer to the common ancestor of all dinosaurs, or to saltasaurus? It is within a smaller taxon together with saltasaurus, yet I bet there is less evolution between it and the common ancestor of dinosauria). but I think most today should know that coelurosaurs are an absolutely huge group of animals and being a coleurosaur doesn't automatically make you a clse relative of any othet coelurosaur. That's like saying dogs and anteaters are close relatives, just because they are both within mammalia.
Edited by theropod, Mar 25 2013, 11:18 PM.
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SpinoInWonderland
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theropod
Mar 25 2013, 11:15 PM
Relation between species cannt be measured. There is a lot of evolution between T. rex and a chicken, as there is between Allosaurus and T. rex. T. rex is within taxon with the chicken that allosaurus is not in, but how close they are related is a different question (for example, is eoraptor closer to the common ancestor of all dinosaurs, or to saltasaurus? It is within a smaller taxon together with saltasaurus, yet I bet there is less evolution between it and the common ancestor of dinosauria). but I think most today should know that coelurosaurs are an absolutely huge group of animals and being a coleurosaur doesn't automatically make you a clse relative of any othet coelurosaur. That's like saying dogs and anteaters are close relatives, just because they are both within mammalia.
The measure of species relations is better shown by the size of the lowest level taxon that contains both...
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theropod
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I don't think so. In your opinion the basalmost coelurosaur would be more closely related to the house sparrow than to its immediate ancestor, jsut becuase that ancestor was outside coelurosauria.
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