A short-Armed troodontid dinosaur from the upper Cretaceous of inner Mongolia and its implications for troodontid evolution

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: The Troodontidae represents one of the most bird-like theropod groups and plays an important role in our understanding of avian origins. Although troodontids have been known for over 150 years, few known derived troodontid specimens preserve significant portions of both the forelimb and the hindlimb.<br /><br />METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Here, we report a new troodontid taxon, Linhevenator tani gen. et sp. nov., based on a partial, semi-articulated skeleton recovered from the Upper Cretaceous Wulansuhai Formation of Wulatehouqi, Inner Mongolia, China. L. tani has an unusual combination of primitive and derived character states, though our phylogenetic analysis places it in a derived clade within the Troodontidae. As a derived taxon, L. tani has a dromaeosaurid-like pedal digit II, and this species also possesses a humerus that is proportionally much shorter and more robust than those of most other troodontids.<br /><br />CONCLUSION/SIGNIFICANCE: The combination of features present in Linhevenator indicates a complex pattern of character evolution within the Troodontidae. In particular, the discovery of Linhevenator suggests that derived troodontids have independently evolved a highly specialized pedal digit II and have significantly shortened the forelimb over the course of their evolution.

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Xu, X., Tan, Q., Sullivan, C., Han, F., & Xiao, D. (2011). A short-Armed troodontid dinosaur from the upper Cretaceous of inner Mongolia and its implications for troodontid evolution. PLoS ONE, 6(9). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0022916

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