Monday, October 29, 2007

Burrowing Dinos

From Sid Perkins at Science News:

Paleontologists in Montana have unearthed an ancient, sediment-filled burrow that holds remains of the creatures that dug it. The find is the first indisputable evidence that some dinosaurs maintained an underground lifestyle for at least part of their lives.

Excavation revealed that the sandstone mass was S-shaped and about 2.1 meters long. For most of its length, the sinuous feature had an oval cross section about 30 cm wide and about 40 cm tall. However, at its lower end it broadened to a width of 45 cm. Varricchio and his colleagues propose that the anomalous mass of sandstone represents a sudden influx of material that filled in a burrow, trapping its occupants.

Varricchio and his colleagues dubbed the new species Oryctodromeus cubicularis, which, in Greek, means "digging runner of the lair." They reported their find at the recent meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology in Austin, Texas.
Varricchio, D., A. Martin, and Y. Katsura. 2007. Burrowing behavior in a new ornithopod dinosaur from the mid Cretaceous of Montana. Society of Vertebrate Paleontology meeting. Oct. 17-20. Austin, Texas. Also in Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 27 [Supplment to No. 3): 162A.
Thanks to Sukie C!