Shuvuuia


1 - Alvarezsaurus, 2 - Mononykus, 3 - Shuvuuia.

Name: Shuvuuia ‭(‬bird‭)‬.
Phonetic: Shu-vu-e-ah.
Named By: L.‭ ‬M.‭ ‬Chiappe,‭ ‬M.‭ ‬A.‭ ‬Norell‭ & ‬J.‭ ‬M.‭ ‬Clark‭ ‬-‭ ‬1998.
Classification: Chordata,‭ ‬Reptilia,‭ ‬Dinosauria,‭ ‬Saurischia,‭ ‬Theropoda,‭ ‬Alvarezsauridae,‭ ‬Parvicursorinae,‭ ‬Mononykini.
Species: S.‭ ‬deserti‭ (‬type‭).
Diet: Insectivore‭?
Size: About‭ ‬60‭ ‬centimetres long.
Known locations: Mongolia‭ ‬-‭ ‬Djadochta Formation.
Time period: Campanian of the Cretaceous.
Fossil representation: Almost complete with feather impressions.‭ ‬Several individuals known.

       At just over half a meter in length,‭ ‬Shuvuuia is not just one of the smallest alvarezsaurs,‭ ‬it is among the smallest‭ ‬known‭ ‬dinosaurs.‭ ‬It is thanks to this small size that the Shuvuuia holotype was so well preserved because it could be buried much more quickly than a larger dinosaur‭ (‬larger dinosaurs are only very rarely preserved complete‭)‬.‭ ‬Like relatives,‭ ‬Shuvuuia had an enlarged thumb spike,‭ ‬but also retained two other digits that were greatly reduced.‭ ‬Shuvuuia is‭ ‬also noteworthy in that the upper jaws‭ (‬the forward portion of the skull‭)‬,‭ ‬can independently flex from the braincase‭ (‬rear portion of the skull‭)‬.‭ ‬This adaptation may have been to help Shuvuuia reach into tight corners to pluck out prey like insects and grubs.
       It seems that Shuvuuia likely had a covering of primitive hair-like feathers covering the body.‭ ‬This is because the type specimen of Shuvuuia was preserved with hollow structures similar to feather rachis surrounding the bones of the body.‭ ‬These structures have been bio-chemically treated and revealed to contain beta-keratin,‭ ‬but no alpha keratin,‭ ‬which means that the correct boxes can be ticked to reveal that these were feathers.
       Another alavarezsaur from the same formation as Shuvuuia is named Kol.‭ ‬Potential predatory threats to Shuvuuia might include dromaeosaurids such as Tsaagan,‭ ‬Velociraptor,‭ ‬Saurornithoides and Mahakala,‭ ‬as well as troodontids Byronosaurus and Gobivenator.‭ ‬Shuvuuia however were probably too small to have been bothered by larges predators such as tyrannosaurs‭ ‬like Alectrosaurus.

Further reading
-‭ ‬The skull of a relative of the stem-group bird Mononykus.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Nature,‭ ‬392‭(‬6673‭)‬:‭ ‬275-278.‭ ‬-‭ ‬L.‭ ‬M.‭ ‬Chiappe,‭ ‬M.‭ ‬A.‭ ‬Norell‭ & ‬J.‭ ‬M.‭ ‬Clark‭ ‬-‭ ‬1998.
-‭ ‬Beta-keratin specific immunological reactivity in feather-like structures of the Cretaceous alvarezsaurid,‭ ‬Shuvuuia deserti.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Journal of Experimental Zoology‭ (‬Mol Dev Evol‭)‬,‭ ‬285:‭ ‬146-157.‭ ‬-‭ ‬M.‭ ‬H.‭ ‬Schweitzer,‭ ‬J.A.‭ ‬Watt,‭ ‬R.‭ ‬Avci,‭ ‬L.‭ ‬Knapp,‭ ‬L.‭ ‬Chiappe,‭ ‬M.‭ ‬Norell‭ & ‬M.‭ ‬Marshall‭ ‬-‭ ‬1999.
-‭ ‬A new specimen of Shuvuuia deserti Chiappe et al.,‭ ‬1998,‭ ‬from the Mongolian Late Cretaceous with a discussion of the relationships of alvarezsaurids to other theropod dinosaurs.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Contributions in Science‭ (‬Los Angeles‭)‬,‭ ‬494:‭ ‬1-18.‭ ‬-‭ ‬S.‭ ‬Suzuki,‭ ‬L.‭ ‬Chiappe,‭ ‬G.‭ ‬Dyke,‭ ‬M.‭ ‬Watabe,‭ ‬R.‭ ‬Barsbold‭ & ‬K.‭ ‬Tsogtbaatar‭ ‬-‭ ‬2002.



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