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Foot long, 7-ounce heavy 'world's smallest dinosaur' unearthed

June 11, 2011 - Washington

British paleontologists have unearthed the world's smallest non-avian dinosaur, measuring about a foot in length and weighing just seven ounces.

The tiny dinosaur has been nicknamed Ashdown maniraptoran and is believed to have lived during the Lower Cretaceous, a period lasting from 145 to 100 million years ago.

"It perhaps weighed as little as 200 grams (seven ounces)," Discovery News quoted co-author Darren Naish as saying.

"Like other maniraptoran theropods, this would have been a small, feathered, bird-like bipedal dinosaur with a fairly short tail, long neck, long slim hind legs, and feathered clawed forelimbs," he added.

Naish and his colleague unearthed the remains of the dinosaur in the Pivensey Pit at Ashdown Brickworks, a site located northwest of Bexhill, East Sussex.

The researchers explained that since they had not unearthed the dinosaur's skull yet, they could not make a firm statement about its diet.

"Based on other oviraptorosaurs and other small maniraptorans, it was perhaps an omnivore, eating small animals, including insects, as well as leaves and fruit," said Naish.

The research appears in the latest issue of Cretaceous Research.


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