Learn about a new prehistoric animal every week with us. It will be a blast!
STL Science Center
29 October 2014
Artist not credited, though it appears to bear a resemblance to the work of Jaime Headden
The specific name for the week is Epidexipteryx hui, named in honor of Hu Yaoming, a Chinese paleontologist known for his work with mammals. When the dinosaur was described in 2008 the publication of the paper occurred shortly after the death of the 42 year old scientist. Hu Yaoming had very little to do with the dinosaur aside from it honoring him, however, his career was fairly well known and the dinosaur has gone on to become fairly famous. The skull of Epidexipteryx has not been discussed as yet, so beyond talking about the honorific name of the species we really ought to address the strangeness of that cranium. The skull has been noted to resemble those of oviraptorosaurs and therizinosaurs, to a lesser extent. The resemblance is not entirely evident or obvious, but to a point the downward curving of the mandible and premaxilla are definitely somewhat reminiscent of Citipati and Oviraptor. Somewhat uniquely, the mandible and maxilla possess forward angled teeth along the predentary/premaxilla and front of the dentary/maxilla, much like the African dinosaur Masiakasaurus. The remainder of the jaws are lacking in teeth entirely. Masiakasaurus' teeth are hypothesized to have adapted to grasping small fast prey. The similar teeth of Epidexipteryx could potentially have been used for a similar purpose and, given that the dinosaur probably could not fly (it lacked flight feathers on its wings), it probably chased down a myriad of small lizards and mammals as prey items on foot.