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Leaellynasaura amicagraphica (a hefty name for a very small dinosaur!) was an Early Cretaceous ornithopod from Australia. At the time, Australia was much nearer to Antarctica than it is today, and dinosaurs that lived there had to be able to handle cold, dark winters much like the arctic species I've already illustrated. How an herbivore would survive these winters is still unknown, as plant life would have been extremely limited during the months of darkness. Perhaps they were able to hibernate, like today's polar mammals, or perhaps they were able to survive by eating roots and bark. While we do not have direct evidence that Leaellynasaura was feathered, it almost certainly would have been - relatives such as Tianyulong and especially Kulindadromeus from a couple days ago demonstrate that ornithiscians were feathered, and the insulation that feathers provide would have been crucial for the survival of such a small animal during the winter.

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Lauren Helton

September 2014

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