Alxasaurus

Name: Alxasaurus ‭(‬Alxa lizard‭ ‬-‭ ‬after the Alxa desert‭).
Phonetic: Alks-ah-sore-us.
Named By: Dale Russel‭ & ‬Dong Zhiming‭ ‬-‭ ‬1994.
Classification: Chordata,‭ ‬Reptilia,‭ ‬Dinosauria,‭ ‬Saurischia,‭ ‬Theropoda,‭ ‬Therizinosauroidea,‭ ‬Alxasauridae.
Species: A.‭ ‬elesitaiensis‭ (‬type‭)‬.
Diet: Herbivore‭?
Size: About‭ ‬3.8‭ ‬meters long.
Known locations: Mongolia‭ ‬-‭ ‬Bayin-Gobi Formation.
Time period: Albian of the Cretaceous.
Fossil representation: 5‭ ‬individuals of varying levels of completeness.

       Alxasaurus was a very significant discovery since study of the bones of this dinosaur reveal both specialised therizinosaur morphs as well as more standard‭’ ‬theropod features.‭ ‬Combined with its appearance in the early Cretaceous,‭ ‬Alxasaurus is firmly established as a transitory form that shows a stage of development between general theropods and the later more advanced therizinosaurids.‭ ‬Alxasaurus has a toothless mouth that in life would have acted like a beak.‭ ‬This lack of specialisation combined with its early appearance in therizinosaur lineage means that there is a little doubt to what this dinosaur ate.‭
       The therizinosaurs were descended from the theropod dinosaurs,‭ ‬a group vastly associated with the eating of meat,‭ ‬and since Alxasaurus was still changing,‭ ‬it is not entirely implausible that it was capable of processing and digesting animal protein.‭ ‬However,‭ ‬Alxasaurus like all therizinosaurs were saurischian‭ (‬lizard hipped‭) ‬dinosaurs,‭ ‬and one group of these,‭ ‬the sauropods,‭ ‬became some of the most famous of plant eating dinosaurs of all time.‭ ‬Alxasaurus also does not have the build of a light weight and agile dinosaur,‭ ‬which a predator would need to be in order to hunt.‭ ‬Also the support of a‭ ‘‬pot belly‭’ ‬for housing a longer gastrointestinal tract‭ (‬a requirement for animals that live on plants‭) ‬is there in the skeleton.‭ ‬Add to this the large finger claws on the hands which were well adapted to reaching around tall branches so that more leaves could be brought down to the mouth,‭ ‬and the odds are stacked in favour of Alxasaurus being a plant eater.‭ ‬For the sake of argument however,‭ ‬if Alxasaurus and other therizinosaur genera ate meat,‭ ‬they would have almost certainly had to scavenge for it,‭ ‬and given their heavy build,‭ ‬only rely upon it to supplement their existing diet of plants.

Further reading
-‭ ‬The affinities of a new theropod from the Alxa Desert,‭ ‬Inner Mongolia,‭ ‬People’s Republic of China,‭ ‬Dale Russel‭ & ‬Dong Zhiming‭ ‬-‭ ‬1993‭ (‬released‭ ‬1994‭)‬.





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