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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 âmissing linkâ. Essentially, this âlinkâ 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 âsickle-maker from Utahâ, largely due to its claws. The results of this important find were documented in this Thursdayâs 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 âItâs 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.âThe first link leads to an article from this Wednesdayâs 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 Geographicâs website that provides a good perspective on this important discovery. The third link offers some informed insights from Natureâs 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 âWhere did dinosaurs live?â and âDid dinosaurs communicate?â. 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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