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T. rex skull ZoomDinosaurs.com
Dinosaur
News
Scipionyx, Small Theropod Found in Italy
Internal organs and muscle tissue fossilized
March 28, 1998

One of the most important recent dinosaur finds is a tiny theropod (meat-eater) fossil found in Cretaceous limestone in southern Italy near Naples. Although it was unearthed 10 years ago by an amateur fossil hunter and thought at first to be a bird, its true importance was not realized until lately. It is a very important specimen in that it has fossilized impressions of many of its internal organs and muscles, including the intestines, colon, windpipe, liver, and more. Its intestines are shorter than had been expected, indicating that it had a very efficient digestive system.

This details visible in this fossil are rare since the soft tissues from an animal do not usually fossilize; they almost always rot before mineral replacement can take place. As it is studied, this new fossil will yield a lot of information about dinosaur's anatomy and physiology as it is studied.

The fossils is a very young theropod, perhaps a maniraptor (related to Velociraptor). It is a hatchling 9.5 inches (24 cm) long. It dates from 113 million years ago (during the Cretaceous period) and has been named Scipionyx samniticus. During the Cretaceous period it lived near a shallow lagoon. The fossils now resides at the Archaeological Administration in Salerno, Italy.

References: Cristiano Dal Sasso and Marco Signore in Nature, vol. 392 (March 26, 1998):383-387
Ruben et al., "Pulmonary Function and Metabolic Physiology of Theropod Dinosaurs," 22 January 1999, Vol. 283, _Science_, pp. 514-516.

RELATED LINKS
Other fossils found in Europe.

Chart of geological time.




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