Discovering evidence of behaviour in fossilized vertebrates is rare. Even rarer is evidence of behaviour in non-avialan dinosaurs that directly relates to stereotypical behaviour seen in extant birds (avians) and not previously predicted in non-avialan dinosaurs. Here we report the discovery of a new troodontid taxon from the Early Cretaceous Yixian Formation of western Liaoning, China. Numerous other three-dimensionally preserved vertebrate fossils have been recovered recently at this locality, including some specimens preserving behavioural information. The new troodontid preserves several features that have been implicated in avialan origins. Notably, the specimen is preserved in the stereotypical sleeping or resting posture found in extant Aves. Evidence of this behaviour outside of the crown group Aves further demonstrates that many bird features occurred early in dinosaurian evolution.