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Naturwissenschaften. 2002 Sep;89(9):394-8. Epub 2002 Aug 21.

A juvenile coelurosaurian theropod from China indicates arboreal habits.

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Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing.


Here we report an unequivocal arboreal coelurosaur, Epidendrosaurus ningchengensis gen. et sp. nov. This juvenile coelurosaur's third manual digit is extremely elongated, distinctively different from that of other known dinosaurs and birds. It represents certainly a type of adaptation previously unreported from the Mesozoic although the exact function of the third manual digit is unclear. The relatively long forelimb, penultimate phalanx of manual digit II, and pedal penultimate phalanges, are interpreted as evidence for the arboreal habit of Epidendrosaurus. Because Epidendrosaurus is more similar to advanced birds in some arboreal features than to Archaeopteryx, we suggest that the initial appearance of tree-adaptation in theropods was probably not directly related to flight but to other functions, such as seeking food or escaping from predators. Electronic Supplementary Material is available if you access this article at On that page (frame on the left side), a link takes you directly to the supplementary material.

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