Temporal range:
Late Cretaceous, 72 Ma
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Clade: Dinosauria
Clade: Saurischia
Clade: Theropoda
Family: Alvarezsauridae
Subfamily: Parvicursorinae
Genus: ParvicursorKarhu & Rautian, 1996
P. remotus
Binomial name
Parvicursor remotus
Karhu & Rautian, 1996

Parvicursor (meaning "small runner") is a genus of tiny maniraptoran dinosaur with long slender legs for fast running. At only about 39 cm (c. 15 in) from snout to end of tail, and 162 grams (5.7 ounces) in weight, it is one of the smallest non-avian dinosaurs known from an adult specimen.[1]

Size of P. remotus (green) compared to other small alvarezsaurids

Like other members of the family Alvarezsauridae, the forelimbs of Parvicursor were short and stubby, with hands all but completely reduced to a single large claw, possibly useful for opening tough termite mounds or other types of digging. It is unlikely that the claw could have served much for defense, as it was short and not adapted for flexible movements — it is more likely it would do as the animal's name implies: cursor means runner.

Parvicursor is known from the late Campanian-age Barun Goyot Formation of Khulsan, Mongolia, dated at approximately 72 million years old. The type species, P. remotus, is only known from one incomplete specimen, mostly pelvis and hind legs. Close relatives include Shuvuuia and Mononykus, and together with these it is classified in the alvarezsaurid subfamily Parvicursorinae.

There may be a second, yet-unnamed, species of Parvicursor. Two specimens of tiny alvarezsaurids were described by Suzuki et al. in 2002. These authors considered the specimens to be juvenile Shuvuuia, which lived in the same formation.[2] However, a study by Nick Longrich and Phil Currie in 2009 suggested that several characters of the skeleton, including fused wrist and pelvic bones, indicated that these specimens were in fact adults of a tiny alvarezsaurid species. A phylogenetic analysis found that they grouped together with Parvicursor, and the authors provisionally referred them to Parvicursor sp. pending further study.[3]

It has been suggested that Linhenykus may be a junior synonym of Parvicursor.[4]


  1. ^ Which was the smallest dinosaur? Archived 2011-07-06 at the Wayback Machine Royal Tyrrell Museum. Last accessed 2008-05-23.
  2. ^ Suzuki, S.; Chiappe, L.M.; Dyke, G.J.; Watabe, M.; Barsbold, R.; Tsogtbaatar, K. (2002). "A new specimen of Shuvuuia deserti Chiappe, et al. 1998 from the Mongolian Late Cretaceous with a discussion of the relationships of alvarezsaurids to other theropod dinosaurs". Contributions in Science, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. 494: 1–18.
  3. ^ Longrich, Nicholas R.; Currie, Philip J. (2009). "Albertonykus borealis, a new alvarezsaur (Dinosauria: Theropoda) from the Early Maastrichtian of Alberta, Canada: Implications for the systematics and ecology of the Alvarezsauridae". Cretaceous Research. 30 (1): 239–252. doi:10.1016/j.cretres.2008.07.005.
  4. ^ Dyke, G. J.; Naish, D. (2011). "What about European alvarezsauroids?". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 108 (22): E147. doi:10.1073/pnas.1101602108. PMC 3107280. PMID 21540333.


  • Karhu, A.A. and Rautian, A.S. (1996). "A new family of Maniraptora (Dinosauria: Saurischia) from the Late Cretaceous of Mongolia". Paleontological Journal Russian Academy of Sciences 30(5): 583-592.

External links

  • Parvicursor from Palaeos (technical)