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Function in the stunted forelimbs of Mononykus olecranus (Theropoda), a dinosaurian anteater

Phil Senter
Function in the stunted forelimbs of Mononykus olecranus (Theropoda), a dinosaurian anteater
Paleobiology (September 2005) 31 (3): 373-381

Abstract

Mononykus olecranus, a theropod dinosaur from the Upper Cretaceous of Mongolia, exhibits reduced forelimbs with a single functional digit. These bizarre forelimbs have aroused great curiosity as to the behavior of the animal, but until now no functional study on the forelimbs of Mononykus has been undertaken. Here I show that the orientation and range of motion in the forelimb elements of Mononykus are such that the humeri sprawl laterally, the antebrachia are held subvertically, the palms face ventrally, and intramanual movement is restricted to subparasagittal motion. This is a radical departure from the typical theropod condition, in which the palms face medially and intramanual movement is transverse. The results of this study confirm that the forelimbs of Mononykus could not have been used to grasp prey or dig burrows, but were well suited for scratch-digging or hook-and-pull movements such as are used by extant anteaters and pangolins to open tough insect nests. Mononykus likely occupied a niche equivalent to that of an anteater or pangolin, an unusual niche for a dinosaur.


ISSN: 0094-8373
EISSN: 1938-5331
Coden: PALBBM
Serial Title: Paleobiology
Serial Volume: 31
Serial Issue: 3
Title: Function in the stunted forelimbs of Mononykus olecranus (Theropoda), a dinosaurian anteater
Author(s): Senter, Phil
Affiliation: Lamar State College at Orange, Department of Math and Science, Orange, TX, United States
Pages: 373-381
Published: 20050901
Text Language: English
Publisher: Paleontological Society, Lawrence, KS, United States
References: 51
Accession Number: 2005-062984
Categories: Vertebrate paleontology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus.
N42°00'00" - N52°00'00", E87°00'00" - E120°00'00"
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2019, American Geosciences Institute. Abstract, Copyright, The Paleontological Society. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States
Update Code: 200521
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