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The Scansoriopteryx was a maniraptoran dinosaur that is believed to be closely related to the various bird species that exist today. The fossil specimen of the Scansoriopteryx dates back to the Middle Jurassic period as well as the Early Cretaceous period. This indicates that the dinosaur was alive 169-122 million years ago. Some sources also think that the Scansoriopteryx was alive during the Late to Middle Jurassic period. The sole fossil was discovered in the Asian country of China, in the Liaoning province. The Scansoriopteryx mainly led an arboreal lifestyle and lived in places that had plenty of trees. The species was described by Czerzak and Yuan. They surmised that the third finger of the Scansoriopteryx (Scansoriopteryx heilmanni or Epidendrosaurus ninchengensis) was longer than the middle one and it had membranous wing-like feathers. It also had down feathers like birds on many parts of its body including the tail. Despite being feathered, the Scansoriopteryx was not capable of powerful flights. Instead, it used its wing feathers to glide and leap across trees. The Scansoriopteryx was mainly insectivorous.
The name Scansoriopteryx is pronounced as 'Scan-sor-e-op-te-riks'.
Scansoriopteryx (Scansoriopteryx heilmanni or Epidendrosaurus ninchengensis) was a maniraptoran dinosaur. It was a dinosaur that was more closely related to birds of today.
Several scientific papers have placed Scansoriopteryx fossils somewhere between the Middle Jurassic Period and the Early Cretaceous period. This would the geological period of the Scansoriopteryx dinosaur between 169-122 million years ago. Another peak period suggested for this dinosaur is the Middle to Late Jurassic period.
The Scansoriopteryx went extinct 129.4-125 million years ago.
The only fossil (of a juvenile) of the Scansoriopteryx dinosaur that was found was in China in Asia. In China, it was found in the Liaoning province. This tree-dwelling dinosaur definitely walked these lands.
The history of the juvenile fossil specimen of the Scansoriopteryx is uncertain since it was procured from private dealers. While describing the species in 2002, paleontologists Czerkas and Yuan reported it to have hailed from the Yixian Formation. Something different was suggested by paleontologist Wang in 2006. While studying Daohugou Beds, Wang said that the Scansoriopteryx also hailed from these same beds and is likely to be synonymous with the 'Epidendrosaurus'. Daohugou Beds are situated in northeastern China and are known for bearing fossils and are correlated with the Tiaojishan Formation Hebei and Liaoning.
The Scansoripteryx's habitat was mainly arboreal and consisted of plenty of trees. The Scansoriopteryx was a tree-dwelling dinosaur.
It is unclear whether these Scansoriopteryx genus dinosaurs lived alone or with others of their own kind.
The lifespan and age of the Scansoriopteryx genus theropod dinosaur have not been well researched, but this dinosaur probably lived to be anywhere between 30-100 years of age.
Theropod dinosaurs of the Scansoriopteryx genus reproduced by mating and laying eggs.
The preserved type specimen of the Scansoriopteryx heilmanni is that of a hatchling or a juvenile, similar to the Achaeopteryx maniraptoran dinosaur. Along with these fossilized remains, another specimen holotype of the supposedly synonymous Epidendrosaurus ninchengensis was discovered, which was also that of a juvenile. Since the only available and preserved specimen samples are those of juveniles, the full-grown Scansoriopteryx size is not known. The creature in the specimen was a sparrow-sized and tiny creature.
The Scansoriopteryx had rounded and wide jaws. The lower jaw had at least 12 teeth which were larger in the front and smaller in the back. Bones in the lower jaw could have been fused together which is a feature common among oviraptorosaurs.
Scansoriopteryx also had an elongated third finger, which was the longest on its hand, twice as big as its second finger. This is a very unusual feature for a theropod, which usually has the second finger as the longest. Remiges or long wing feathers of the Scansoriopteryx were attached to the long finger instead of the middle finger. Maniraptorans and birds have wing feathers on their middle digits. Shorter feathers attached to the second finger were also preserved. The Yi genus of dinosaurs, the Scansoriopteryx, also has a similar feature, a long third finger with membranous wing feathers.
The hip socket of the Scansoriopteryx was non-perforated which tends to be open in many other dinosaurs. The pubis (hip bone) of the Scansoriopteryx pointed forward, which is a primitive characteristic of theropods. This is unlike certain maniraptorans which have a closer relationship to birds for whom the pubis points backward or downward. Legs of the Scansoriopteryx were short and the upper foot or metatarsus had pebbly small scales. There are also some indications of long feathers on the upper foot, not unlike 'hind wings' of the Microraptor and some other basal paravians. The Scansoriopteryx also had a very large hallux or first toe on its foot. The hallux was lower on the foot and looked to be reversed, which allowed for some additional grasping ability.
The tail of the Scansoriopteryx was long, about six or seven times longer than its femur. The tail also had a fan of feathers at the end.
It is unclear exactly how many bones a Scansoriopteryx dinosaur had since fossil remains found were of an undeveloped juvenile.
Like other dinosaurs, the Scansoriopteryx was a visual creature. It probably saw shapes and colors better than mammals did, including humans. It may have also utilized vocal and visual cues, including mating displays and vocal calls.
The Scansoriopteryx length was 10 in (25.4 cm), which makes it eight times smaller than the Lesothosaurus.
Although the Scansoriopteryx is said to have membranous wings, it probably used them to travel up trees in its arboreal habitat. The exact speeds are not known.
The Scansoriopteryx weight was about 6 oz (170.1 g) on average.
Males and females of the Scansoriopteryx dinosaur species did not have any specific names.
A baby Scansoriopteryx would be called a hatchling or a nestling.
The Scansoriopteryx diet consisted of insects like mayflies and beetles as well as other small creatures.
It is unclear how aggressive these theropod, tree-climbing, feathered dinosaurs were.
These tree-climbing, bird-like, and Scansiopteryx theropods which were pre-Archaeopteryx that inhabited what is today China, 150 million years ago, in the Jurassic period, underwent a re-examination. The result is that the widely-believed hypothesis that birds come from land-dwelling dinosaurs that developed the ability to fly has been challenged.
The Scansiopteryx genus is the type genus for the Scansoriopterygidae family. Arboreal tendencies were initially presented through the evidence of the type specimen in Florida, in Dinosaur/Bird Evolution Symposium. The symposium took place at the Broward County's Graves Museum of Archaeology and Natural History. The specimen was not formally named and described until 2002, however.
Yes, the Scansoripteryx is believed to have had bird-like down feathers. Preserved fossils have impressions of these down and wispy feathers around some parts of the body. These feathers form V-shaped patterns much like modern down feathers of birds. The most prominent feather impressions are in the form of a trail from the hand to the left forearm. Longer feathers of this particular region led the scientist team of Yuan and Czerkas to believe that Scansoriopteryx had wing feathers that were well-developed and aided the dinosaur in rudimentary gliding as well leaping across branches. The Scansoriopteryx also had faint impressions near the end of its tail much like the Microraptor.
It is debatable whether the Scansoriopteryx could fly like modern birds at all.
The describing authors of Scansripteryx, Czerkas and Yuan, stated that the dinosaur's curved, strong claws were adapted to moving around on trees and climbing them. Czerkas and Yuan also surmised that these features are believed to be early stages of the evolution of wings in birds, with forelimbs being well-developed and suited for tree-climbing. Czerkas and Yuan also stated that this evolutionary development later morphed into wings in birds capable of flight. Grasping hands were logically used more for tree-climbing rather than flying since a flying bird tends to have very short hands.
Fossils also indicate bird-like feathers around some body parts, which formed patterns in V-shapes like down feathers of modern birds. The trail of long feathers in the region of the hand and the left forearm also led Yuan and Czerkas to believe that an adult Scansoriopteryx probably had wing feathers that aided in rudimentary gliding and in leaping.
The possibility of the Scansoriopteryx being capable of powered flight was ruled out by Yuan and Czerkas. Like several other maniraptoran dinosaurs, the Scansoriopteryx had a half-moon-shaped wrist bone that allowed it to fold its hand. Even if flying like a bird was impossible for the Scansoriopteryx, this wrist motion would have definitely helped in leaping across tree branches.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly dinosaur facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other dinosaurs from our Sauropelta surprising facts and Orodromeus fun facts for kids pages.
You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Scansoriopteryx coloring pages.
Main image by Cornhead.
Second image by Matt Martyniuk.
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