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Feathered dinosaurs is a term used to describe dinosaurs, particularly maniraptoran dromaeosaurs, that were covered in plumage; either filament-like intergumentary structures with few branches, to fully developed pennaceous feathers complete with shafts and vanes. Feathered dinosaurs first came to realization after it was discovered that dinosaurs are closely related to birds. Since then, the term "feathered dinosaurs" has widened to encompass the entire concept of the dinosaur–bird relationship, including the various avian characteristics some dinosaurs possess, including a pygostyle, a posteriorly oriented pelvis, elongated arms and forelimbs and clawed hand, and clavicles fused to form a furcula. A substantial amount of evidence demonstrates that birds are the descendants of theropod dinosaurs, and that birds evolved during the Jurassic from small, feathered maniraptoran theropods closely related to dromaeosaurids and troodontids (known collectively as deinonychosaurs). Less than two dozen species of dinosaurs have been discovered with direct fossil evidence of plumage since the 1990s, with most coming from Cretaceous deposits in China, most notably Liaoning Province. Together, these fossils represent an important transition between dinosaurs and birds, which allows paleontologists to piece together the origin and evolution of birds. (Read more...)


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Paul Sereno2

Paul Sereno is an American paleontologist who is the discoverer of several new dinosaur species on several continents. He has conducted excavations at sites as varied as Inner Mongolia, Argentina, Morocco and Niger. He is a professor at the University of Chicago and a National Geographic "explorer-in-residence." Sereno's most widely publicized discovery is that of a nearly complete specimen of Sarcosuchus imperator (popularly known as SuperCroc) at Gadoufaoua in the Tenere desert of Niger. Other major discoveries include Eoraptor - the oldest known dinosaur fossil, Jobaria, the first good skull of Carcharodontosaurus iguidensis, Afrovenator, Suchomimus and the African pterosaur. (Read more...)

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"A fossil hunter needs sharp eyes and a keen search image, a mental template that subconsciously evaluates everything he sees in his search for telltale clues. A kind of mental radar works even if he isn't concentrating hard. A fossil mollusk expert has a mollusk search image. A fossil antelope expert has an antelope search image. ... Yet even when one has a good internal radar, the search is incredibly more difficult than it sounds. Not only are fossils often the same color as the rocks among which they are found, so they blend in with the background; they are also usually broken into odd-shaped fragments. ... In our business, we don't expect to find a whole skull lying on the surface staring up at us. The typical find is a small piece of petrified bone. The fossil hunter's search therefore has to have an infinite number of dimensions, matching every conceivable angle of every shape of fragment of every bone on the human body."
—Describing the skill of his co-worker, Kamoya Kimeu, who discovered the Turkana Boy, the most complete specimen of Homo erectus, on a slope covered with black lava pebbles. Taken from Richard Leakey and Roger Lewin, Origins Reconsidered: In Search of What Makes Us Human (1992), 26.


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==Explore the prehistoric world==
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Pancrocodylia diversity

The Crurotarsi ("cross-ankles") are a group of archosaurs, whose name was erected as a node-based clade by Paul Sereno in 1991 to supplant the old term, Pseudosuchia. Crurotarsi are by definition the sister group of the Avemetatarsalia (all forms closer to birds than crocodiles). Crurotarsi is one of the two primary daughter clades of the Archosauria. The skull is often massively built, especially in contrast to ornithodires; the snout narrow and sometimes tending to be elongate, the neck is short and strong, and the limb posture ranging from typically reptilian sprawling to dinosaur or mammal-like erect (although this is achieved in a different way to dinosaurs and mammals). The body is often protected by two or more rows of armored plates. Many crurotarsans reached large size: approximately around three meters or more in length.

Clockwise from top-left: Longosuchus meani (an aetosaur), Angistorhinus grandis, (a phytosaur), Saurosuchus galilei (a rauisuchian), Pedeticosaurus leviseuri (a sphenosuchian), Chenanisuchus lateroculi (a eusuchian), and Dakosaurus maximus (a thalattosuchian).

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