Abstract

An articulated skeleton of a 1 m long theropod from Early Cretaceous strata in Inner Mongolia is clearly referrable to the Troodontidae, representing the most complete specimen known of this group of small carnivorous dinosaurs. The tail and neck of the animal were curled next to its body upon burial; the upper surface of the skeleton was badly damaged by erosion. Previously unknown details of troodont morphology include a quadratic contact with the braincase wall (forming part of a channel leading to the lateral depression), a presacral vertebral count possibly similar to that of most theropods, absence of ossified caudal tendons, presence of a rod-like clavicle, and absence of sternal ossifications. A new genus and species (Sinornithoides youngi n.gen., n.sp.) is established for the specimen on the basis of its short skull, laterally directed orbital rim of the frontal, and elongated hind limb. A reassessment of character distributions in other small theropods and primitive birds must be completed before troodontid affinities can be established with greater precision.

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