Shuvuuia, graphic reconstruction

  • Mongolia

Shuvuuia (of Mongolian " Shuvuu " - Vogel) is a genus of Alvarezsauridae, a group of relatively small, bird-like dinosaurs, which is among the theropods. The only genus of feathered dinosaur attributed to this species is Shuvuuia deserti. She lived at the time of the Upper Cretaceous (early to middle Campanian ) in the area of ​​today's Mongolia.

Fossils of Shuvuuia was found in two places in the Gobi Desert. In the same rock layers were found Velociraptor and Protoceratops.


Shuvuuia was about 60 inches long, making it one of the smallest known dinosaurs. His hind legs were slender and show him to be a good runner. The front legs were short, strong and ended up in a single massive claw, similar to the closely related genus Mononykus. The two remaining fingers were greatly reduced. Maybe Shuvuuia was a specialized insectivores, which opened with its strong front claws termite nests, similar as do pangolins today.

Bird similarity

In studies of the fossil surrounding sediment was found fibrous structures that suggest a fletching of the animal. Biochemical studies showed that these structures are decay products of beta- keratin, while traces of alpha - keratin missing. In reptilian scales both alpha - keratin and beta keratin occur, takes place in spring, however, only beta - keratin.

Shuvuuia could his upper jaw move relative to the background skull - a form of Schädelkinese that is otherwise detected within the Theropoda only at higher birds such as the Hesperornithiformes and Neornithes, but not for example in Archaeopteryx. This is a further indication of the phylogenetic proximity of Shuvuuia as the Alvarezsauridae at all to the birds.