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Death in the wild is often brutal and violent. But for one small, birdlike dinosaur in the late Cretaceous Period, the end of its life was relatively peaceful — it curled up to take a nap and never woke up.
That’s what scientists have interpreted from the pose of the dinosaur’s fossil skeleton. With the creature’s head tucked over its limbs and tail snugly wrapped around its body, its cozy posture resembled those of modern birds at rest, hinting that these dinosaurs didn’t just look like birds — they may have behaved like them, too.
Paleontologists excavated the dinosaur’s skull and nearly complete skeleton in the Gobi Desert at the Barun Goyot Formation in Mongolia, and most of the bones were still arranged in the animal’s original death pose, researchers reported Wednesday in the journal PLOS One.
The animal’s long neck wrapped around the right side of its trunk, and its head was tucked close to its side, resting atop the right knee. The hind limbs were folded underneath it, and most of the tail curved around the body’s left side.