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The Aye-aye Dinosaur by Qilong The Aye-aye Dinosaur by Qilong
Scansoriopteryx was described by Czerkas for an odd specimen originally procurred from fossil dealers at the Tuscon Rock Show, an annual gathering of fossil dealers at Tuscon, Arizona, USA. The fossils likely come from sediments found in the Chinese autonomous district Nei Mongol's Ningcheng County, known as the Daohugou Beds, which might be earliest Cretaceous in age (though Czerkas originally suggested they come from Liaoning Province's Yixian Formation, which is younger in age). As such, the fossil was illegally exported, and Czerkas returned it to China, but not until he had taken the cleanest photos yet of a bizarre group of tiny dinosaurs, Scansoriopterygidae. Their most peculiar feature happens to be the extremely elongated third manual digit or finger, shown here in two views. Notice in the top illustration how difficult it is to hold the arm in a typical "running" posture while keeping the arms vertical and below the body. Thus the bottom illustration shows a possible extended posture. However, the fossils of both known species, the other being Epidendrosaurus ningchengensis also known from Nei Mongol's Daohugou, were apparently very young, as suggested by the poorly defined ends to the limb bones, the huge head, huge eyes compared to head, and gangly-looking legs.
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SteeleLord Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2007
very very very interesting! fav
Tacimur Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2006  Hobbyist Digital Artist
That was very informative. Was this dinosaur able to fold his hand back as a bird would fold its wing?
Qilong Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2006
The animal was probably not fully grown, so it's bones are not completely ossified. Thus, we wouldn't know if it could since the wrist bones known are very small and not tall and arched. I showed in the "arm-tucked" postion how far, I think, the arm could possibly tuck. Otherwise, i do not think it could move any more than that, and probably even less than you see.
Weatherfac Featured By Owner Oct 20, 2006  Hobbyist General Artist
Actually, arm-folding is seen to some degree in all maniraptors (with the possible exception of the alvarezsaurs, with their weird little stubs), so logically epidendrosaurs would have been able to do so, too. Some scientists actually believe epidendrosaurs were birds (along with all the other maniraptors), and I am inclined to agree.

On a side note, Qilong, your Scansoriopteryx's arms look sort of dislocated. You have them squeezed up in between the shoulder bones, but I'm pretty sure they should be nestled into the curve of the frontmost bone.
Qilong Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2006
Thanks for the reply.

I note that many people think these are not only allied to birds, but are birds; I take a very conservative view on this and distinguish these with a minimum of interpretive features.

However, while some scientists also view all other maniraptorans as birds, this tends to make issue with the definition of "bird" and this is a semantic question that has little bearing on science by itself, thus tends to be ignored in actual studies of relationships. "Bird", in the end, is not the same as whatever formal, scientific name of a group of animals you have chosen to confine them to, be it Neornithes, Aves, Paraves, Avialae, Ornithurae, or whatever.


Anyways, you note the arms seem dislocated. If I read you right, you are suggesting that the shoulder articulated into the curve of the frontmost bone, which would be the coracoid. However, this curve is not a joint, but a margin of bone that projects to the rear and the side, and is the same as in birds for the side of the strut connecting scapula to breastbone in one's holiday bird meal. The true joint, called the glenoid, lies between coracoid and scapula and is located directly in the animal on the inside corner of the bones when articulated, and faces somewhat towards the back and a lot to the outside. This makes the upper drawing more plausible than the lower drawing, but I illustrated both to suggest the animal has some ability to "flap".
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February 22, 2006
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