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Xixianykus (Matt van Rooijen, Optimistic Painting


Xixianykus (Greek for "Xixian claw"); pronounced shi-she-ANN-ih-kuss


Woodlands of eastern Asia

Historical Period:

Middle-Late Cretaceous (90-85 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 2 feet long and a few pounds


Small animals

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Small size; feathers; unusually long legs


About Xixianykus:

Xixianykus is one of the newest alvarezsaurs, a family of feathered dino-birds that lived in Eurasia and the Americas during the middle to late Cretaceous periods, Alvarezsaurus being the poster genus of the group. Judging by this dinosaur's unusually long legs (about a foot long, compared to a head-to-tail body size of only two feet or so) Xixianykus must have been an unusually fast runner, chasing down small, speedy animals at the same time as it avoided being eaten by larger theropods. Xixianykus is also one of the oldest alvarezsaurs yet discovered, a hint that these feathered dinosaurs may have originated in Asia and then spread west.

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