Linhenykus preservation

Hind limb elements of Linhenykus. From Xu et al., 2011.

It’s a new taxon so of course I’m going to try and milk it for a couple of extra posts. Anyway. Linhenykus is represented by most of a skeleton which is always a nice thing to find. However the actual preservation of the specimen is worthy of comment as it contrasts quite sharply with most of the material that is recovered from Bayan Mandahu. While this stuff can be exceptionally nice, it also tends to be quite fragile and prone to eroding down to, well splinters, and eventually,  nothing.

The bones of Linhenykus however are incredibly tough. They were preserved inside a tough nodule and the bones have fossilised rather differently to the vast majority of things at Bayan as a result. (As a side note, I don’t actually know of any other specimens recovered from nodules in these localities, this may well be the first). The nodule itself had eroded away and the bones were found left on the surface. Obviously it’s impossible to know how long they had been there, but aside from a few breaks the bones were in amazing condition and required effectively no preparation. They must have been out there for some time to have eroded completely free of any matrix yet were undamaged showing just how tough they are.

It perhaps also explains why we found so many small elements in such great condition (like the vertebrae and that tiny metacarpal). Being so tough and resistant to erosion meant these otherwise vulnerable details and bits of bone were never really troubled by weathering and survived intact. Which was nice. If i was more of a taphonomist I’d be expanding on this at some length, but since I’m not, I’ll be stopping here rather abruptly.

2 Responses to “Linhenykus preservation”

  1. 1 adam yates 26/01/2011 at 11:04 am

    Sounds like whatever cemented the nodule together (silica?) got into the bones as well and helped hold them together.

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