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Parvicursor

Name: Ā»small runnerĀ«

Length: 39 cm

Height: 12 cm

Weight: 162 g

Diet: omnivore

Time: Cretaceous (83-71 MYA)

Location: Asia

Dinosaur stuff

Parvicursor (meaning “small runner”) is a genus of tiny maniraptoran dinosaur with long slender legs for fast running. At only about 39 cm (~15 in) from snout to end of tail, and 162 grams (5.7 ounces) in weight, it is one of the smallest non-avian dinosaurs known from an adult specimen.

Like other members of the family Alvarezsauridae, the forelimbs of Parvicursor were short and stubby, with hands all but completely reduced to a single large claw, possibly useful for opening tough termite mounds or other types of digging. It is unlikely that the claw could have served much for defense, as it was short and not adapted for flexible movements – it is more likely it would do as the animal’s name implies: cursor means runner.

Parvicursor is known from Late Cretaceous Campanian sediments at Khulsan, Mongolia. The type species, P. remotus, is only known from one incomplete specimen, mostly pelvis and hind legs. Close relatives include Shuvuuia and Mononykus, and together with these it is classified in the alvarezsaurid subfamily Alvarezsauridae.

There may be a second, yet-unnamed, species of Parvicursor. Two specimens of tiny alvarezsaurids were described by Suzuki et al. in 2002. These authors considered the specimens to be juvenile Shuvuuia, which lived in the same formation. However, a study by Nick Longrich and Phil Currie in 2008 suggested that several characters of the skeleton, including fused wrist and pelvic bones, indicated that these specimens were in fact adults of a tiny alvarezsaurid species. A phylogenetic analysis found that they grouped together with Parvicursor, and the authors provisionally referred them to Parvicursor sp. pending further study.

Scientific classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Sauropsida

Superorder: Dinosauria

Order: Saurischia

Suborder: Theropoda

Family: Alvarezsauridae

Genus: Parvicursor Karhu & Rautian, 1996

Species: P. remotus Karhu & Rautian, 1996

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