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Chirostenotes (Nobu Tamura)


Chirostenotes (Greek for "narrow hand"); pronounced KIE-ro-STEN-oh-tease


Woodlands of North America

Historical Period:

Late Cretaceous (80 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 7 feet long and 50-75 pounds


Probably omnivorous

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Narrow, clawed fingers on hands; toothless jaws

About Chirostenotes:

Like Frankenstein's monster, Chirostenotes has been assembled out of bits and pieces, at least in terms of its nomenclature. This dinosaur's long, narrow hands were discovered in 1924, prompting its current name (Greek for "narrow hand"); the feet were found a few years later, and assigned the genus Macrophalangia (Greek for "big toes"); and its jaw was unearthed a few years after that, and given the name Caenagnathus (Greek for "recent jaw"). Only afterward was it recognized that all three parts belonged to the same dinosaur, hence the reversion to the original name.

In evolutionary terms, Chirostenotes was closely related to a similar Asian theropod, Oviraptor, demonstrating how widespread these meat-eaters were during the late Cretaceous period. As with most tiny theropods, Chirostenotes is believed to have sported feathers, and it may have represented an intermediate link between dinosaurs and birds.

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