“National Geographic News” reports that a new dinosaur species has been unearthed in northeastern China. [See an artist’s rendition here.] Linhenykus monodactylus cuts a distinctive figure because it is the only known one-fingered dinosaur. Perhaps, this specimen is sending us a rather rude message from the Cretaceous period? The more likely explanation is that Linhenykus‘ single-fingered hands served a more practical purpose–digging for food. “Some researchers speculate that these dinosaurs used their hands to dig [up] termite nests,” said study leader Xu Xing of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing. This was probably the case for Linhenykus as well, he said.
The parrot-sized Linhenykus belongs to the suborder theropoda, a group of two-legged carnivorous dinosaurs that also includes the T. Rex and Velociraptor.
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