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mei

Mei (Wikimedia Commons)

Name:

Mei (Chinese for "sound asleep"); pronounced MAY

Habitat:

Woodlands of Asia

Historical Period:

Early Cretaceous (140-135 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About two feet long and a few pounds

Diet:

Probably omnivorous

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Small size; small skull; long legs

About Mei:

Almost as tiny as its name, Mei was a small, probably feathered theropod whose closest relative was the much larger Troodon. The story behind this dinosaur's odd moniker (Chinese for "sound asleep") is that the complete fossil of a juvenile was found in a sleeping position--with its tail wrapped around its body and its head tucked underneath its arm. If that sounds like the sleeping posture of the typical bird, you're not far off the mark: paleontologists believe Mei was yet another intermediate form between birds and dinosaurs. (For the record, this unfortunate hatchling was probably smothered in its sleep by a rain of volcanic ash.)

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