STL Science Center

STL Science Center

05 July 2013

The Mountains of Jura

The Jura Mountains of Germany yielded one of the smallest dinosaurs we know. Thought to be a juvenile due to its miniscule size, Juravenator starki, is a 75 cm long coelurosaurian theropod dating to approximately 150-152 million years ago. Remember that naming new species from juveniles is not generally advised considering the growth series and life histories of many dinosaurs have altered many species' positions as well as names in years past. However, sometimes all we have to go on originally is a juvenile specimen and sometimes it is different enough to justify a new species. Additionally, this could just be a very small dinosaur; without other specimens at this time it is harder to assert the age of the animal. I kind of hope it is a full grown animal because it would be like the lap dog of dinosaurs (though I do not like lapdogs a lapdog dinosaur would be fantastic). Jurassic Bavaria, along with the rest of the European continent, was a much more tropical environment with many more miles of coastline than are now present on the continent; mostly due to the fact that many of the landmasses that would become Europe were underwater and a lot of islands dotted the Tethys Ocean. Juravenator was a coastal predator and scavenger. Covered in very primitive feather-like structures and extensively scaled (evidence for these assertions are found on impressions around the tail), Juravenator appears to exhibit a very basal position in terms of dinosaur feathering witnessed in other compsognathids. Juravenator is also thought to be a nocturnal animal, as detailed in comparisons of the sclerotic rings to those of living birds have shown.

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