Close

A new study recently revealed alvarezsaurs, unusual dinosaur species reduced in size roughly 100 million years ago, when they became specialized ant-eaters.

This new work, a Phys.org report specified, is led by PhD student Zichuan Qin, at the University of Bristol and Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing.

As such, Qin measured body sizes of dozens of specimens and presented that they ranged in sizes between 20 and 70 kilograms, similar to a large turkey's to a small ostrich's size, for the majority of their existence, and then, dropped quickly to chicken-sized animals at the same time as they accepted an unusual new diet which is ant-eating.

Also indicated in the said report, the Alvarezsaurs lived from the Late Jurassic to Late Cretaceous, about 160 to 70 million years back, in various parts of the world which includes Mongolia, China, and South America.

The said dinosaurs were slender, two-legged predators for the majority of their time on this planet, chasing lizards, early mammals, and baby dinosaurs as part of their diet.

ALSO READ: Wolves Might Protect Us From This Deadly Brain Disease

Science Times - Unusual Dinosaur Species Reduced in Size 100 Million Years Ago, Reveals a New Study
(Photo : Kumiko from Tokyo, Japan on Wikimedia Commons)
A new study recently revealed alvarezsaurs, unusual dinosaur species reduced in size roughly 100 million years ago, when they became specialized ant-eaters.

The Cretaceous Terrestrial Revolution

According to one of Zichuan's supervisors, Professor Michael Benton, from Bristol's School of Earth Sciences, probably, competition with other dinosaurs strengthened through the Cretaceous.

The Cretaceous, he added, was a period of quickly evolving ecosystems and the biggest change was the slow takeover by flowering plants.

Flowering plants changed the nature of the landscape totally, and yet dinosaurs mostly did not feed on these said new plants. However, they resulted in an explosion of new insect types which include termites and ants.

The ecosystem's restructuring has been named the "Cretaceous Terrestrial Revolution", marking the period when modern-style forests and woodlands arose, with diverse animals and plants which include insects that specialized to pollinate the new flowers to feed on their petals, leaves, and nectar.

Alvarezsaur Species

A similar ScienceDaily report specified, the key problem with lots of alvarezsaur specimens, specifically the chicken-sized ones, was to guarantee they were all adults.

Co-author of the study, Dr. Qi Zhao, also a bone histology expert said "some of the skeletons clearly came from juveniles".  

Additionally, the study showed the dinosaurs' ages when they died, depending on the growth rings' number in the bone.

Commenting on their findings from the study, "Growth and miniaturization among alvarezsauroid dinosaurs", published in Current Biology Dr. Zhao said they were able to identify that some samples came from babies and juveniles and so they left them out of the estimations.

Ant-eating might appear a remarkable diet for dinosaurs. This, according to Professor James Clark in Washington, DC, and co-author of the study was suggested years ago when the Mononykus' arms were reported from Mongolia.

Clark, also one of the tiny alvarezsaurs' discoverers from Mongolia added, Mononykus, as National Geographic describes, was one of the tiny alvarezsaurs, just roughly one-meter long, although possibly weighing four to five kilograms, a decent-sized Christmas turkey.

The species' arm was short and stout. More so, it had lost but one of its fingers which was altered as a short spike. Furthermore, the alvarezsaurs looked like a punchy little arm, not quite good for grabbing things, although ideal for punching a hole in a termite mound's side.

A similar report about alvarezsaurs is shown on The Budget Museum's YouTube video below:

 

RELATED ARTICLE: Fossilized Dinosaur Eggshells: Paleontologists, Amateur Fossil Hunters Continue Unearthing Their Traces to Date

 

Check out more news and information on Paleontology on Science Times.