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CLEVELAND --A Cleveland Museum of Natural History curator was among a team of researchers that described and named a new species of dinosaur.

The dinosaur is the second species named and published this month by Dr. Michael Ryan, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

Dinosaurs are often thought of as large, fierce animals, but new research highlights a previously overlooked diversity of small dinosaurs.

In the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology published May 2013, a team of palaeontologists from the University of Toronto, Royal Ontario Museum, Cleveland Museum of Natural History and University of Calgary have described a new dinosaur, the smallest plant-eating dinosaur species known from Canada.

Albertadromeus syntarsus was identified from a partial hind leg, and other skeletal elements, that indicate it was a speedy runner. Approximately 1.6 meters (5 feet) long, it weighed about 16 kilograms (30 pounds), comparable to a large turkey.

Albertadromeus lived in what is now southern Alberta in the Late Cretaceous, about 77 million years ago. Albertadromeus syntarsus means "Alberta runner with fused foot bones."

This animal is the smallest known plant-eating dinosaur in its ecosystem, and it likely used its speed to avoid predation by the many species of meat-eating dinosaurs that lived at the same time.

Albertadromeus was discovered in 2009 by study co-author Dr. David Evans of the Royal Ontario Museum as part an ongoing collaboration with Dr. Michael Ryan of The Cleveland Museum of Natural History to investigate the evolution of dinosaurs in the Late Cretaceous of North America.

"Albertadromeus may have been close to the bottom of the dinosaur food chain but without dinosaurs like it, we would not have giants like T. rex," said Ryan. "Our understanding of the structure of dinosaur ecosystems is dependent on the fossils that have been preserved. Fragmentary, but important, specimens like that of Albertadromeus suggest that we are only beginning to understand the shape of dinosaur diversity and the structure of their communities."

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