145 million
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145 million

Aug 02, 2023


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Fossilized bones have been identified as a new species of dinosaur that existed between 145 million and 200 million years ago during the late Jurassic period.

Minimocursor phunoiensis is the name of this new ancient plant-eating dinosaur species grazing on Southeast Asia's grasslands.

The first half of this scientific name is made up of two Latin words: minimus, which means "smallest," and cursor, which means "runner."

The fossil examination is led by paleontologists from the Mahasarakham University in Thailand.

In 2012, the bones were discovered in the Phu Kradung Formation in northern Thailand. It took years, however, to identify that the remains belonged to a new Jurassic-age species.

The team unearthed extraordinarily well-preserved fossilized bones of this new species at this location. Before this finding, the majority of dinosaur fossils recovered in Thailand were noted to be isolated bones such as limb bones and vertebrae.

“The Phu Noi locality contains a wealth of specimens and has yielded an exceptionally articulated skeleton, which represents one of the best-preserved dinosaurs ever found in Southeast Asia,” the researchers wrote in the study paper.

The study added: “This is the earliest record of neornithischians in Southeast Asia, and the first dinosaur taxon named from the Phu Kradung Formation of Thailand.”

The creature belongs to the neornithischia group, which includes various herbivorous dinosaurs such as ornithopods, marginocephalians, and some small bipedal dinosaurs.

The well-preserved specimen identified five distinct characteristics found on its face, hips, and hand bones. As a result, they proclaimed it to be a new species.

Reportedly, the fossils exhibited morphological features such as a distinctive small bony lump on its jaw and an unusual flange on the pubic bone.

The dinosaur’s tooth structure indicated that it munched on plants. This species was still young when it perished. The authors estimate that it was only around 60 cm long based on the size of the bones — approximately the size of a medium dog. However, the adults of this species would have been slightly larger.

Interestingly, the team found 10 distinct specimens belonging to members of the same species. The authors state that the presence of so many remnants shows that this species likely populated the region back then.

The findings were published in the journal Diversity.

Study abstract:

An exceptional articulated skeleton of a new basal neornithischian dinosaur, Minimocursor phunoiensis gen. et sp. nov., was discovered in the Late Jurassic Phu Kradung Formation at the Phu Noi locality, Kalasin Province, Thailand, a highly productive non-marine fossil vertebrate locality of the Khorat Plateau. It is one of the best-preserved dinosaurs ever found in Southeast Asia. Minimocursor phunoiensis gen. et sp. nov. shows a combination of both plesiomorphic and apomorphic characters resembling those of Late Jurassic to Early Cretaceous small-bodied ornithischians from China: a low subtriangular boss is projected laterally on the surface of the jugal, the brevis shelf of the ilium is visible in lateral view along its entire length, a distinct supraacetabular flange is present on the pubic peduncle of the ilium, the prepubis tip extends beyond the distal end of the preacetabular process of the ilium, and the manus digit formula is ?-3-4-3-2. The phylogenetic analysis shows that this dinosaur is among the most basal neornithischians. This study provides a better understanding of the early evolution and taxonomic diversity of ornithischians in Southeast Asia.

Study abstract: