Recently, a team of researchers in a remote area of eastern Utah led by Utah state paleontologist James I. Kirkland made an important discovery that has been described as a type of dinosaur “missing link”. Essentially, this “link” represents a rather primitive plant-eater that evolved from the meat-eating raptors that also gave rise to modern birds. The dinosaur has been named Falcarius utahensis, which means “sickle-maker from Utah”, largely due to its claws. The results of this important find were documented in this Thursday’s edition of the journal Nature, and this material supports earlier contentions that link the plant-eating dinosaurs known as therizinosaurs to raptors. Matthew Lamanna from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History remarked that “It’s an extremely significant find. Before this discovery, the oldest known animal recognized as a therizinosaur came from China, and this one is just as old and seems to be more primitive anatomically. It appears to be the final piece of the puzzle.”The first link leads to an article from this Wednesday’s Washington Post that offers some perspective on the find from the paleontologist James I. Kirkland. The second link will take visitors to a fine news story from the National Geographic’s website that provides a good perspective on this important discovery. The third link offers some informed insights from Nature’s own Michael Hopkins on this discovery. The fourth link leads to a very informative site from BBC on dinosaurs, which includes fact files on a number of dinosaurs, a timeline, and some interactive games and screensavers. The fifth link will take visitors to a very useful FAQ site, offered by the United States Geological Survey, which answers a number of common queries about dinosaurs, such as “Where did dinosaurs live?” and “Did dinosaurs communicate?”. The final link leads to the homepage of that noted University of Chicago paleontologist, Paul Sereno. Here visitors can learn about his work and expeditions, among other things.


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