A short-armed dromaeosaurid from the Jehol Group of China with implications for early dromaeosaurid evolution

Xiaoting Zheng, Xing Xu, Hailu You, Qi Zhao, Zhiming Dong

Abstract

Recent discoveries of basal dromaeosaurids from the Early Cretaceous Jiufotang and Yixian formations of Liaoning, China, add significant new information about the transition from non-avian dinosaurs to avians. Here we report on a new dromaeosaurid, Tianyuraptor ostromi gen. et sp. nov., from the Early Cretaceous Yixian Formation of western Liaoning, China, based on a nearly complete skeleton. Tianyuraptor possesses several features only seen in other Liaoning dromaeosaurids, although to a less developed degree, and it also exhibits features unknown in Laurasian dromaeosaurids but present in the Gondwanan dromaeosaurids and basal avialans, thus reducing the morphological gap between these groups. Tianyuraptor possesses a comparatively small furcula and proportionally short forelimbs. This lies in stark contrast to the possible capacity for flight in the microraptorines, which have proportionally long and robust forelimbs and large furculae. The presence of such striking differences between the Early Cretaceous Jehol dromaeosaurids reveals a great diversity in morphology, locomotion and ecology early in dromaeosaurid evolution.

Footnotes

  • One contribution to a Special Issue ‘Recent advances in Chinese palaeontology’.

    • Received July 7, 2009.
    • Accepted July 24, 2009.
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