Letters to Nature

Nature 431, 838-841 (14 October 2004) | doi:10.1038/nature02898; Received 16 April 2004; Accepted 26 July 2004

A new troodontid dinosaur from China with avian-like sleeping posture

Xing Xu1,2 & Mark A. Norell2

  1. Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology & Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, PO Box 643, Beijing 100044, China
  2. American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th Street, New York City, New York 10024, USA

Correspondence to: Xing Xu1,2 Email: xu@amnh.org or xingxu@vip.sina.com

Discovering evidence of behaviour in fossilized vertebrates is rare. Even rarer is evidence of behaviour in non-avialan dinosaurs that directly relates to stereotypical behaviour seen in extant birds (avians) and not previously predicted in non-avialan dinosaurs1, 2. Here we report the discovery of a new troodontid taxon from the Early Cretaceous Yixian Formation of western Liaoning, China. Numerous other three-dimensionally preserved vertebrate fossils have been recovered recently at this locality, including some specimens preserving behavioural information3. The new troodontid preserves several features that have been implicated in avialan origins. Notably, the specimen is preserved in the stereotypical sleeping or resting posture found in extant Aves4. Evidence of this behaviour outside of the crown group Aves further demonstrates that many bird features occurred early in dinosaurian evolution5, 6.

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