Ornitholestes (Ornitholestes): description, characteristics, photos

Ornitholests were small carnivorous dinosaurs that led a gregarious life; they probably ate mostly carrion. In addition, their diet included insects and other small animals, including possibly early bird species.  They could also eat eggs, as hinted at by their name, which literally means “robbing birds”.

Ornitholests were a type of dinosaur that lived during the late Jurassic period in what is now North America. They lived about 150 million years ago.

miniature predators

By the standards of dinosaurs, ornitholests were very small, but nevertheless they are classified as predators. Scientists have established this by the powerful jaws and sharp teeth of the petrified skeletons of ornitholests.

Ornitholest got its name, meaning “one who robs birds”, in 1903, when the first bones of this dinosaur species were found in the USA. The remains found near the skeleton of the ornitholes indicated that he probably fed on various small creatures.

The forelimbs of the ornitholest, judging by their structure, were perfectly adapted for grasping various objects. Probably, with their help, the ornitholes could take and lift even round objects for example, eggs that he intended to eat.

Perhaps the ornitholest could also catch and eat birds that recently appeared on Earth in the process of evolution. In addition, he apparently ate carrion. Thus, this small predator had a rather diverse menu.

For a carnivorous creature, the head of an ornitholelest was rather small. Another strange feature was a small protrusion or ridge located above the nostrils of the ornitholest. No one can say with certainty whether this protrusion was in individuals of both sexes or was a distinctive feature of males. We can only speculate.

thin-boned skeleton

The remains of this predator have been found quite a bit (the bones of small dinosaurs most often break and crumble shortly after death), but it has been definitely established that the skeleton of the ornitholeles is very similar to the skeletons of other coelurosaurs the family to which the dinosaurs that lived on Earth belonged in the late Jurassic period. All coelurosaurs had light, flexible bodies, rather long necks, thin legs, and three-toed feet.

Long tails helped coelurosaurs maintain their balance while chasing prey, when the hunter often had to change direction abruptly.

The hip of coelurosaurs consisted of three bones, each of which moved in a different direction than the other two. Therefore, scientists call them “saurishians”, which means lizards. Their pelvic structure is the same as that of modern crocodiles, and the pubic bone protrudes downward and forward (as seen in this illustration). In another variety of dinosaurs “ornithisans”, or “birds” these two bones are parallel, that is, they are directed in one direction.

No one can accurately determine the cause of such a sharp difference in the structure of the pelvic bones for different types of dinosaurs. This could happen because the smaller mobile dinosaurs quickly moved by wider steps, which led to the corresponding structure of the pelvis.

Notice the difference

Representatives of the Kiseworosaur family were so similar that in the past, even scientists often could not distinguish their skeletons. But in 1980, almost 80 years after the bones of the ornithols were found for the first time, scientists found that this type of dinosaurs has some characteristic features that distinguish them from other targets: firstly, the ornitholis has a relatively small head; secondly, the front limbs are longer than that of his other relatives.

The hands of the forelimbs also had their own distinctive features: each had two very long clawed fingers of approximately the same length and one shorter, opposing finger, which could bend inward just like a human thumb. This finger came in very handy when capturing prey by the ornitholest.

The ornitholelest had more teeth than other coelurosaurs, and its bite was probably more powerful. His lower jaw was extremely strong and deep. The flexible neck allowed the ornitholestus to easily grab a small victim, which he killed by plunging razor-sharp teeth into it.

But the ornitholest itself could sometimes become a victim of a larger predator, a hunter for easy prey. Some scientists believe that, due to their small size, the ornitholest could sometimes eat the remains of a meal of larger predators, snooping under their feet and remaining unnoticed.

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