A megaraptor emerges from footprint fossils
The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Tuesday, July 16, 2024

A megaraptor emerges from footprint fossils
In an undated image from Lida Xing, the 13-inch footprint of the Fujianipus yingliangi. The 90-million-year-old raptor is believed to have competed with tyrannosaurs of similar size in Cretaceous China. (Lida Xing via The New York Times)

by Jack Tamisiea

NEW YORK, NY.- Thanks to their reign of terror in “Jurassic Park,” Velociraptors are infamous prehistoric predators.

The sickle-clawed killing machines familiar to moviegoers, though, are far removed from their scientific counterparts — and not just because the fictional ones lack feathers. In real life, Velociraptors topped out at the size of a Labrador retriever and were much smaller than the human-size hunters portrayed in the film series.

Still, some raptors did achieve imposing sizes. And a team of paleontologists said it might have identified a new megaraptor based on a set of fossilized footprints found in China. In a paper published this week in the journal iScience, the researchers estimated that the tracks had been left by a dinosaur that would be among the largest raptors known to science.

The raptor’s footprints are part of a larger dinosaur trackway discovered in southeastern China in 2020. During the Late Cretaceous period, about 90 million years ago, the area was a muddy river plain home to all manner of dinosaurs, including long-necked sauropods and duck-billed herbivores. As these dino denizens stomped about, they left muddy footprints — some of which have been preserved for tens of millions of years.

Around 240 dinosaur tracks have been discovered in Longxiang, at the track site, which is roughly the size of a hockey rink. A few of the footprints are oddly shaped, with preserved imprints featuring only two toes.

“When you see dinosaur footprints with only two toes, you can play the Cinderella slipper game and look for feet that match them,” said Stephen Brusatte, a paleontologist at the University of Edinburgh who was not involved in the new study. “The only dinosaurs that walked on two toes were ‘raptors’ like velociraptor and their close relatives.”

Raptors left such odd imprints because their inside toes were held off the ground. This prevented the toe’s oversize, recurved claw from dragging on the ground and becoming dull.

Several of Longxiang’s two-toed tracks appear to have been left by a small, velociraptor-size dinosaur. But the researchers found a set of five tracks that are more than 13 inches long, making them the largest raptor tracks in the fossil record. Based on the size of the tracks, the dinosaur that left them stood roughly 5 feet tall and 15 feet long, putting it in the neighborhood of the largest known raptors, including Utahraptor.

Its distinct footprints inspired the paleontologists to name the new raptor Fujianipus (meaning the “the foot of Fujian”) yingliangi. While finding fossilized bones would help researchers further flesh out what the animal looked like, the proportions of its two toes make it likely that Fujianipus was a troodontid, a type of birdlike raptor that inhabited Asia and North America during the Cretaceous period.

Raptors are often depicted as fast-paced predators. But footprints alone can’t provide a sense of how fast Fujianipus moved, according to W. Scott Persons, a paleontologist at the College of Charleston in South Carolina and co-author of the new paper.

He thinks the raptor was most likely watching its step as it crossed the muddy riverbed. “When you walk across mud, you would be moving very carefully to avoid slipping,” Persons said. “That was probably also the case for our raptor.”

Without fossilized leg bones, the researchers cannot estimate Fujianipus’ speed. But members of the troodontid group, to which it probably belonged, were “among the leggiest of all raptors,” Persons said, suggesting that Fujianipus was probably a swift predator.

Speed would have come in handy during the late Cretaceous, a period when older lineages of predatory dinosaurs were gradually giving way to up-and-coming groups of carnivores like raptors and lanky tyrannosaurs.

“During this time, it seems like these two iconic groups of dinosaurs, the tyrannosaurs and the raptors, were both vying for that midsized predator crown,” Brusatte said.

While tyrannosaurs would continue to grow into behemoths like Tyrannosaurus rex, raptors largely stayed small. Giants like Fujianipus and Utahraptor are outliers.

“Raptors experimented with large body sizes but, unlike a lot of other groups of carnivorous dinosaurs, they didn’t stick with it,” Persons said. “Raptors appear to have been way better at being small- and medium-sized carnivores than they were at being big.”

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

Today's News

April 26, 2024

Sharon Stone's New Exhibition at Gallery 181 in San Francisco

A megaraptor emerges from footprint fossils

Long-lost Klimt painting sells for $37 million at auction

The Venice Biennale and the art of turning backward

Denenberg Gallery opens an exhibition of recent work by Marc Pally

Getty Museum agrees to return ancient bronze head to Turkey

Everything you need to know about the 2024 Met Gala

Serpentine unveils major new public sculpture by Gerhard Richter

Three vibrant and colorful paintings by Maud Lewis sell in Miller & Miller's online auction

Stolen antique clock returned to museum after 20 years

Mexico City-based artist Tania Candiani receives Bemis Center's Ree Kaneko Award

Morphy's lively Las Vegas Coin-op & Antique Advertising Auction closes near $4M mark

Janet Borden Inc. opens the first exhibition devoted to Martin Parr's fashion work

Pier 24 Photography opens last show before closing

Inside the crisis at NPR

What to know about Venice's fees for day trips

In coral fossils, searching for the first glow of bioluminescence

'Oh, Mary!,' a surprise downtown hit, will play Broadway this summer

Steve Carell as the 50-year-old loser in a comic 'Uncle Vanya'

Lily Gladstone and Riley Keough investigate a chilling murder

Helen Vendler, 'Colossus' of poetry criticism, dies at 90

For Maxine Hong Kingston, age is just time going by

How 'Stereophonic' made musicians out of actors

The Role of Virtual Reality in Architectural Renders

Truck accident injuries in Tucson: Is an attorney necessary?

SMONET RLM1000: The Ultimate Solution for Busy Homeowners Seeking Automated Lawn Care

Brawl Stars: Is 2024 the Right Year to Play the Game?

How LED Mirror World's LED Mirrors Can Transform Your Space

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez
Writer: Ofelia Zurbia Betancourt

Truck Accident Attorneys
Accident Attorneys

Royalville Communications, Inc

ignaciovillarreal.org juncodelavega.com facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. Hommage
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site Parroquia Natividad del Señor
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful