Nemegtomaia

Nemegtomaia
Temporal range: Late Cretaceous, 70 Ma
Nemegtomaia barsboldi holotype.jpg
Skeletal diagram showing known remains of the holotype specimen, MPC-D 100/2112
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Clade:Dinosauria
Suborder:Theropoda
Family:Oviraptoridae
Subfamily:Ingeniinae
Genus:Nemegtomaia
et al., 2005
Species
  • N. barsboldi (Lü et al., 2004)
Synonyms
  • Nemegtia barsboldi Lü et al., 2004

Nemegtomaia is a genus of oviraptorid dinosaur from what is now Mongolia that lived in the Late Cretaceous Period, about 70 million years ago. The first specimen was found in 1996, and became the basis of the new genus and species N. barsboldi in 2004. The original genus name was Nemegtia, but this was changed to Nemegtomaia in 2005, as the former name was preoccupied. The first part of the generic name refers to the Nemegt Basin, where the animal was found, and the second part means "good mother", in reference to the fact that oviraptorids are known to have brooded their eggs. The specific name honours the palaeontologist Rinchen Barsbold. Two more specimens were found in 2007, one of which was found on top of a nest with eggs, but the dinosaur had received its genus name before it was found associated with eggs.

Nemegtomaia is estimated to have been around 2 m (7 ft) in length, and to have weighed 40 kg (85 lb). As an oviraptorosaur, it would have been feathered. It had a deep, narrow, and short skull, with an arched crest. It was toothless, had a short snout with a parrot-like beak, and a pair of tooth-like projections on its palate. It had three fingers; the first was largest and bore a strong claw. Nemegtomaia is classified as a member of the oviraptorid subfamily Ingeniinae, and it the only known member of this group with a cranial crest. Though Nemegtomaia has been used to suggest that oviraptorosaurs were flightless birds, the clade is generally considered a group of non-avian dinosaurs.

The nesting Nemegtomaia specimen was placed on top of what was probably a ring of eggs, with its arms folded across them. None of the eggs are complete, but they are estimated to have been 5 to 6 cm (2 to 2.3 in) wide and 14 to 16 cm (5 to 6 in) long when intact. The specimen was found in a stratigraphic area that indicates Nemegtomaia preferred nesting near streams that would provide soft, sandy substrate and food. Nemegtomaia may have protected its eggs by covering them with its tail and wing feathers. The skeleton of the nesting specimen has damage that indicates it was scavenged by skin beetles. The diet of oviraptorids is uncertain, but their skulls are most similar to other animals that are known or thought to have been herbivorous. Nemegtomaia is known from the Nemegt and Baruungoyot Formations, which are thought to represent humid and arid environments that coexisted in the same area,

Description

Size compared to a human

Nemegtomaia is estimated to have been around 2 m (7 ft) in length, and to have weighed 40 kg (85 lb), a size extrapolated from more completely known relatives. As an oviraptorosaur, it would have been feathered. The neural spines of the neck (cervical) vertebrae were short, and the neural arches had an x-shaped appearance. The middle three of these vertebrae were the largest. The scapula (shoulder blade) appears to have been 185 mm (7 in) in total length. The humerus (upper arm bone) had a fossa (depression) in a position similar to modern birds, but atypical among oviraptorosaurs, and appears to have been 152 mm (6 in) long. The radius of the lower arm was straight, oval in cross-section, and may have been 144 mm (5 in) long. The first finger was relatively large and had a strong ungual (claw bone), and was more massive than the two other fingers. The second finger was slightly longer than the first, and the third finger was the smallest. The upper margin of the ilium of the pelvis was straight, and though both ilia were close to each other, they were not fused together. The pubic shaft was turned backwards. The femur (thigh bone) is estimated to have been 286 mm (11 in) long, and the tibia of the lower leg 317 mm long (12 in).[1][2]

Restoration of a nesting individual

The skull of Nemegtomaia was deep, narrow, and short (compared to the rest of the body), and reached 179 mm (7 in) in length. It had a well-developed crest, formed by the nasal and premaxilla bones (mainly the latter) of the snout. The nearly vertical front margin of the holotype's crest formed an almost 90 degree angle with the upper margin of the skull. Compared to other oviraptorids, the nasal processes (projections) of the premaxillae were barely visible when viewed from above (where they connected with the nasal bones on the highest points of the crest). The crest extended hindwards and down, forming a round arch at the highest point. The diameter of the orbit (eye opening) was 52 mm (2 in); the eyes looked large due to the shortness of the skull. The antorbital cavity in front of the eye consisted of two fenestrae (openings); a large antorbital fenestra at the back, and a small maxillary fenestra at the front. Nemegtomaia was distinct from other oviraptorids in that the frontal bone on the midline of the skull was about 25% the length of the parietal bone from front to back. The nares (external nostrils) were relatively small and placed high on the skull.[1][2]

Preserved parts and reconstruction of specimen MPC-D 107/15's skull

The jaws of Nemegtomaia were toothless, and like other oviraptorid dinosaurs, it had a short snout with a deep, robust, and somewhat parrot-like beak. It had a hard palate formed by the premaxillae, vomers, and maxillae, like other oviraptorids. The palate was strongly concave (downwards-projecting), and had a cleft on the central part. As in other oviraptorids, it had a pair of tooth-like projections on the palate that were directed downwards (a feature that has been called "pseudo-teeth"). Nemegtomaia had small foramina (openings) on the sides of the suture (joint) between the premaxillae at the front of the snout, which may have been nutrient openings (and which indicate the presence of a keratinous bill). The lower jaw was short and deep, with a convex lower surface, and reached 153 mm (6 in) in length. The dentary bone of the lower jaw reached 50 mm (2 in) at its highest point. The mandibular symphysis (where the two-halves of the lower jaw connected) was short, deep, and very pneumatised (with air-spaces). The mandibular fenestra was large and was located at the front part of the lower jaw.[1][3][2][4] As in most other oviraptorids, the front of the lower jaw was down-turned.[5]

Though Nemegtomaia does not possess any single feature that distinguishes it from other oviraptorids (autapomorphies), the combination of a crest, an enlarged first finger, and a high number of sacral vertebrae (eight), is unique to this taxon.[6]

Other Languages
čeština: Nemegtomaia
Deutsch: Nemegtomaia
español: Nemegtomaia
فارسی: نمگتومایا
français: Nemegtomaia
Nederlands: Nemegtomaia
ଓଡ଼ିଆ: Nemegtomaia
polski: Nemegtomaia
русский: Nemegtomaia barsboldi
slovenčina: Nemegtomaia
Tiếng Việt: Nemegtomaia