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News Forum - Jurassic spark: Doctoral student unearths dinosaur fossils at iconic excavation site in Thailand


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A Thai doctoral student made a significant discovery of dinosaur fossils at the Phu Noi Excavation Site, known throughout the kingdom as the Jurassic Park of Thailand, in the Isaan province of Kalasin. The fossils were identified as a new species of dinosaur in Thailand and the world and named Minimocursor Phunoiensis. The Department of … …

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It's Minimocursor, and it's a distant relative of the horned and duckbill dinosaurs. And it's very vaguely what used to be called a 'hypsilophodontid' before that term became clarified, to be a lot more restrictive.

Unlike modern ecosystems, Jurassic and Cretaceous land vertebrate assemblages, feature more herbivorous species of megafauna, and fewer of animals the size of Minimocursor.

The exact layer yielding Minimocursor, has no other named dinosaurs, but does yield elements belonging to Mamenchisaurus sauropods and metroacanthosaurid carnosaurs/allosaurs. Making Minimocursor the only known ornithischian, and also the only described dinosaur genus, from its precise time and place.

The truth is, animals like Minimocursor - 'hypsilophodonts' - are a taxonomic and cladistic mess. Such dinosaurs were widespread, but less likely to be preserved, than are much larger dinosaur species, with more robust skeletons, meaning bones are more likely to be preserved in a good state.

This is what is called a taphonomic bias, but can't be attributed solely to the biases of fossil preservation. Firstly, well diagnosed small theropod taxa, known from good material, outnumber those of similarly sized ornithischians. Juveniles of most megafaunal dinosaurs were feeding themselves, like baby ostriches and crocodiles, so they were competing for food with small bodied species of dinosaur, such as Minimocursor, whilst benefitting from adult protection. 

Edited by Karolyn
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