There has been fossil evidence for dwarf dinosaurs since the late 19th century, but no one was quite sure whether the fossils were dwarf adults or merely juveniles of normal-size dinosaurs. Now an analysis of fossilised bones from 11 individuals of a new species (Europasaurus holgeri) shows conclusively that they were adults — stretching to around 6 metres long.
Large animals sometimes evolve into dwarf forms if confined to places such as islands. A smaller body means the animal can live on less food, which gives it a survival advantage in a small habitat. Such evolutionary pressure has created island dwarf species of elephants, hippos and even mammoths. In the time of the dinosaurs, the region of north Germany where the new fossils were found was under water, lending support to the idea that this species lived on an island.
Perhaps not quite on a par with fluffy kittens, but pretty dinky nonetheless 🙂