One of the odd joys of living in Alberta is living in the land of dinosaur lore. This week paleontologists discovered the fossil remains of North America's smallest known dinosaur, 'Hesperonychus,' ("western claw") in the badlands of southeastern Alberta.
Cousin to the ferocious velociraptor, this creature sensation is described as 'half the size of a house cat, running on two legs, eating insects, small mammals, or whatever else it could find.' Sounds pretty sweet... For more details about the discovery and how this little critter is shaking up evolutionary theory, read the following article in the International Herald Tribune. I have a familial duty to keep up on dinosaurs as my nephew is seriously BIG on these beasts.
As well, I am intrigued by the enigmatic beauty of natural history illustration. The image above is a life reconstruction by Nicholas Longrich, University of Calgary. Hesperonychus elizabethae is pictured chasing a cicada through an Alberta forest some 75 million years ago. Cool!
Below is an illustration of Albertonykus borealis, North America's previous creature contender for smallest dinosaur. (Image courtesy of National Geographic.) These animals earned a strange reputatation as 'chicken-size dinosaurs with a taste for termites.'