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Nemegtomaia

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nemegtomaia

Nemegtomaia (Matt Martyniuk)

Name:

Nemegtomaia (Greek for "Nemegt desert mother"); pronounced neh-MEG-toe-MY-ah

Habitat:

Plains of Central Asia

Historical Period:

Late Cretaceous (70 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 6 feet long and 50 pounds

Diet:

Probably omnivorous

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Feathers; short, blunt skull

About Nemegtomaia:

One of a large family of small, feathered theropods closely related to Oviraptor, Nemegtomaia stood out from the pack thanks to its bizarrely shaped skull, blunt and square in front with strangely shaped jaws. This is a good hint that Nemegtomaia pursued a very specialized diet--perhaps a particular kind of insect or mollusk--but pending further fossil discoveries we may never know the details for sure.

It may or may not have anything to do with its presumed insect diet, but paleontologists recently unearthed a specimen of Nemegtomaia that had been partially eaten by hordes of Cretaceous beetles shortly after its death. Apparently, the body parts of this unfortunate individual that were not immediately buried in sediment were exposed to predation, and the beetles got there before any large, hungry theropods in the vicinity!

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