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Similicaudipteryx

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similicaudipteryx

Similicaudipteryx (Xing Lida and Song Qijin)

Name:

Similicaudipteryx (Greek for "similar to Caudipteryx"); pronounced SIH-mih-lih-cow-DIP-teh-rix

Habitat:

Woodlands of Asia

Historical Period:

Early Cretaceous (125-120 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

A few feet long and 5-10 pounds

Diet:

Meat

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Short arms and legs; feathers; pygostyle at end of tail

About Similicaudipteryx:

As you can guess from its name, Similicaudipteryx closely resembled one of the prototypical "dino-birds" of the Cretaceous period, Caudipteryx, which also lived in Asia. What set this seven-syllable dinosaur apart from its more famous namesake was its pygostyle, the small, feathered structure, supported by bone, at the end of its tail--a feature shared by modern peacocks and by only one other known feathered dinosaur, Nomingia.

Pygostyle aside, Similicaudipteryx has become famous thanks to the recent, detailed research of Chinese paleontologists, who claim (based on the analysis of two associated fossils) that juveniles of this species had a different feather structure than adults--which implies that this feathered dinosaur molted like modern birds. However, it's notoriously difficult to draw firm conclusions from hundred-million-year-old feather impressions, and not all experts are convinced that the differences are as pronounced as the scientists say.

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