|Artists rendition of Falcarius by Michael Skrepnick, courtesy of University of Utah|
This dinosaur is thought to be a "missing link" between the carnivorous theropods and the very strange therizinosaurids. These later therizinosaurids are often compared to large ground sloths with their huge torsos, likely roaming the ground for vegetation. Therizinosaurids also had large claws that reached up to a metre in length!
|Nothronychus, a derived therizinosaurid from the US. Image by Wikimedia user DinoGuy2|
Since originally posting this, a new paper has come out which shows the structure of the brain of Falcarius and other therizinosaurs . Remember back in September when we talked about how palaeontologists can use CT scans to better understand extinct animals? Well this is another great example of what CT scans can show us, and what they can tell us about the animal. They found that Falcarius and other therizinosaurs like Erlikosaurus and Nothronychus had well developed sensory abilities, especially with respect to smelling and hearing. A well developed sense of smell is normally found in carnivorous dinosaurs, while these animals were herbivorous or omnivorous. Since these herbivores had a great sense of smell, they suspect they were using it to track down plants with particularly smelly flowers or fruits. This is especially likely as they also found that therizinosaurs did not have a good sense of vision, so they needed to rely on smell and hearing to find food and avoid predators
Next week we'll be back to dinosaurs from Alberta with the letter 'G'. If you have any Albertan dinosaurs that start with 'G' that you'd like to hear about, let us know!
1 Lautenschlager, S, et al. 2012. The endocranial anatomy of Therizinosauria and its implications for sensory and cognitive function. PloS One 7: e52289.
Also check out Brian Switek's blog on this paper for more information here