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PLoS One. 2012;7(9):e45203. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0045203. Epub 2012 Sep 27.

A second soundly sleeping dragon: new anatomical details of the Chinese troodontid Mei long with implications for phylogeny and taphonomy.

Author information

1
Dalian Natural History Museum, Dalian, Liaoning, China.

Abstract

A second nearly complete, articulated specimen of the basal troodontid Mei long (DNHM D2154) is reported from the Early Cretaceous (Hauterivian-Valanginian) lower Yixian Formation, Liaoning Province, China. New diagnostic features of Mei long are identified, including: a uniquely shaped maxilla, low with small, low maxillary fenestra; sacrum with an extremely wide caudal portion and elongate 4(th) and 5(th) sacral processes; and a large distal articular surface on the tibiotarsus which continues caudally on the tibia. A phylogenetic analysis including new data from the second specimen recovered Mei as a basal troodontid, in keeping with previous analyses. Although the skeleton exhibits several juvenile-like features including free cervical ribs, unfused frontals and nasals, and a short snouted skull, other attributes, full fusion of all neurocentral synostoses and the sacrum, and dense exteriors to cortical bone, suggest a small, mature individual. Microscopic examination of tibia and fibula histology confirms maturity and suggests an individual greater than two years old with slowed growth. Despite being one of the smallest dinosaurs, Mei long exhibits multi-year growth and cortical bone consisting largely of fibro-lamellar tissue marked by lines of arrested growth as in much larger and more basal theropods. This Mei long specimen lies in a similar but mirrored sleeping position to that of the holotype, strengthening the hypothesis that both specimens were preserved in a stereotypical life position. Like many Liaoning specimens, the new specimen also lacks extensive taphonomic and stratigraphic data, making further behavioral inference problematic.

PMID:
23028847
PMCID:
PMC3459897
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0045203
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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