A recently discovered species of toothless, two-fingered dinosaurs provided some details on how a group of parrot-like animals roamed Earth over 68 million years ago.
The Species’ Peculiarities
According to some researchers, the spectacular species presented one less finger on each forearm than its near relatives, suggesting an evolutionary trait that helped them spread during the Late Cretaceous Period.
Various complete skeletons of the new species were discovered in the Gobi Desert in Mongolia by a team from the University of Edinburgh.
The creatures are referred to as the Oksoko avarsan. Scientists believe that they were omnivorous, about two meters long, and had two functional digits on all forearms.
The animals also had a toothless beak that resembles those on current-day parrots.
The impressively well-preserved fossils are solid proof for the first episode of digit loss in oviraptors, a three-fingered family of dinosaurs.
The conclusion that they could evolve forelimb adaptations is proof that the group could alter their diets and habits to diversify and multiply, according to the team of researchers.
Scientists analyzed the reduction in size and ultimate loss of a third finger across the oviraptors’ evolutionary history.
The group’s hands and arms suffered changes significantly in tandem with migrations to specific geographic areas, particularly to what is now North America and the Gobi Desert.
The team found out that Oksoko avarsan – like other prehistoric species – were highly social during their first years of life.
The fossils of four young dinosaurs were found resting together.
The study was published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, and it received funding from The Royal Society and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada.