Monday, September 12, 2011

Linhevenator tani, a new troodontid from China

Fig 1.- Reconstruction of Linhevenator tani.

Troodontids are a family of very bird-like small theropods with long legs and enlarged braincases.  Phylogenetically, they are placed alongside the dromaeosaurs (Velociraptor, Deinonychus and friends) among the Deinonychosaurians, a sister group to the birds. Fossils of troodonts were found in Asia, Europe and North America in sediments dating from the Upper Jurassic to the Upper Cretaceous periods. Some of the better known troodonts include the Early Cretaceous Mei long (the shortest name given to a dinosaur, and meaning “sleeping dragon” because its exceptionally preserved articulated skeleton has been found in a sleeping position) and the Late Cretaceous Troodon formosus from North America, which was originally described on the basis of a single characteristic serrated tooth, but which is now known from multiple fragmentary specimens (previously referred as "Stenonychosaurus").

Fig 2.- The holotype (LH V0021) of Linhevenator tani (Xu et al., 2011). Licensed under CC 2.5. Scale bar is 2 cm.

Xing Xu and colleagues are reporting in the September 2011 issue of the open access journal PLoS ONE, a new troodontid from the Late Cretaceous Wulansuhai Formation of Bayan Mandahu, Inner Mongolia. The Wulansuhai Formation is equivalent to the famous Mongolian dinosaur bearing Djadokhta Formation of Campanian age. This new species, Linhevenator tani is known from a partly articulated skeleton that includes the skull, several vertebrae, pelvic girdle and limb elements. Although badly weathered, the remains are of particular interest are they are to date the most complete ones from a Late Cretaceous Troodontid and therefore likely to shed new lights on the more derived members of this family. Linhevenator was a rather large species (around 2-3 meters in length) characterized by rather short arms (the humeri measured only 40% of the length of the femur) and with a sickle clawed second digit on each foot similar to those of the dromaeosaurs, although these may be in fact common traits to all derived troodontids such as Troodon and Saurornithoides.

Xing Xu, Qingwei Tan, Corwin Sullivan, Fenglu Han and Dong Xiao. 2011. A Short-Armed Troodontid Dinosaur from the Upper Cretaceous of Inner Mongolia and its Implications for Troodontid Evolution. PLoS ONE 6 (9): e22916

Original artworks on Paleoexhibit are copyrighted to Nobu Tamura. Do not use without permission (Email: nobu dot tamura at yahoo dot com)


  1. Absolutely love your restoration of this little guy, Nobu! He's got a real regal look to him. Excellent!

  2. I agree with Peter. I like how you kinda gave it that "four wings" look like on Microraptor. This is one of your cutest drawings. It reminds me of something... can't quite pinpoint it. Maybe a seriema.

  3. can i have the clear photograph of the real skeleton of linhevenator or at least half of the body is clealy shown on photograph to prove this linhevenator is real

    1. Not sure what you mean here. The photograph of the holotype shows what is known of Linheraptor and this is a real partial skeleton.