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Researchers in Mongolia have possibly discovered the reason behind the death position of dinosaurs.
During the excavation, paleontologists uncovered the remains of a previously unknown dinosaur species and made an unexpected finding.
Researchers discovered the skull and almost fully intact body of a dinosaur in the Gobi Desert, specifically at the Barun Goyot Formation in Mongolia. They observed that the majority of the bones were still in their original position as if the animal had died in that pose.
The bones suggested that the animal passed away in a calm sleeping position, with its head resting on its limbs and its tail neatly curled around its body, similar to the way modern birds die.
The scientists stated that they suspect the animal is a previously unknown species, evolved from the alvarezsaurid, a diminutive, avian-like dinosaur from the end of the Cretaceous Era.
The scientists stated that their findings suggest the species, officially named Jaculinykus yaruui, not only resembled a contemporary bird, but also likely exhibited similar behaviors.
Two additional dinosaur fossils were discovered in Mongolia in a similar position.
According to the researchers, the discovery of a new fossil indicates that the act of sleeping may have been widespread amongst the ancestors of birds, including those that were not yet able to fly.
Dr. Jingmai O’Connor, a paleontologist and associate curator of fossil reptiles at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, pointed out that ducks and dinosaurs share a similar sleeping posture of tucking their heads under their wings. This is a common sight among ducks, but seeing a dinosaur exhibiting the same behavior is quite fascinating.
“This provides concrete proof of behaviors that are currently exclusive to birds. We can now confidently state that this is not a characteristic solely possessed by birds,” he informed CNN.
It is believed that the modern-day birds adopt a specific sleeping position upon death in order to retain body temperature. It is also thought that this posture may have had a similar function for the Jaculinykus yaruui species.
During their evolution, alvarezsaurs decreased in size. This potentially led them to develop a similar method of regulating body temperature as their bird relatives, according to Kohta Kubo, the lead author of the study.
He stated that the position of sleeping emphasizes that this behavior of regulating body temperature, similar to that of birds, developed before the ability to fly.
The alvarezsaurid species lived around 70 million years ago toward the end of the Cretaceous Period, and would have measured just over three feet long.