The Tiny Carnivore Theropod
In 2006, biologists from the George Washington University unearthed fossils from northwest China, which scientists have now classified as a new species of small theropod, or meat-eating dinosaur.
The dinosaur named Aorun zhaoi after the Dragon King in the Chinese epic tale, “Journey to the West” was believed to have lived during the Late Jurassic Period nearly 161 million years ago, reveals the research team in the study that was published by the Journal of Systematic Palaeontology.
James Clark of George Washington University led the team of researchers and found only a partial skeleton but a near-complete skull and a mandible. “All that was exposed on the surface was a bit of the leg,” said Dr. Clark. “We were pleasantly surprised to find a skull buried in the rock too.”
Clark estimates the new theropod was 1 meter or just over 3 feet long and probably weighed about 3 pounds.
“We were able to look at microscopic details of Aorun’s bones and they showed that the animal was less than a year old when it died on the banks of a stream,” said Choiniere, now a senior researcher at the Evolutionary Studies Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa.