A new dinosaur species has been discovered, with no teeth and two fingers on its upper limbs. The discovery reveals a group of parrot-shaped animals that lived more than 68 million years ago. The strange species had one fewer finger on its forearm than its nearest relative, suggesting that this adaptability allowed the animal to reproduce in the late Cretaceous period.
The researchers found several complete skeletons of the creature in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert during a study led by the University of Edinburgh. Named Oksoko avarsan, the creature is a feathered omnivorous creature that is about two meters long and has two fingers on each forearm, most noted by a large toothless beak, similar to what we see in modern parrots today.
The fossils were found to be well preserved and provide direct evidence that they were a variant of a family of three-fingered dinosaurs known as dragons. The creature’s forearm adaptability suggests that they can change their diet and lifestyle, allowing them to diversify and reproduce in the environment. Scientists studied the shrinking and eventual loss of the third finger in the evolutionary history of the egg-shaped raptor.
The team saw dramatic changes in their arms and hands and moved to new geographical areas, particularly in what is now North America and the Gobi Desert. The researchers also found that the creatures were social at an early age, and the fossil remains of four young dinosaurs were found to be preserved together for rest.
Dr Gregory Funston, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Geosciences, who led the study, said the creature was interesting because the bones were so complete. He also points out that the way they are found resting together suggests that they roamed together in groups at an early age.