Weird 'chicken from hell' dinosaur lived alongside T. rex 66-million years ago
Researchers have described a a sharp-clawed, 500-pound, bird-like dinosaur that roamed the Dakotas with T. rex 66 million years ago and looked like an eleven and a half foot-long "chicken from hell."
University of Utah biology postdoctoral fellow Emma Schachner, a co-author of a new study of the dinosaur, said that it was a giant raptor, but with a chicken-like head and presumably feathers, asserting that the animal stood about 10 feet tall, so it would be scary as well as absurd to encounter.
The beaked dinosaur's formal name is Anzu wyliei - Anzu after a bird-like demon in Mesopotamian mythology, and wyliei after a boy named Wylie, the dinosaur-loving grandson of a Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh trustee.
Three partial skeletons of the dinosaur - almost making up a full skeleton - were excavated from the uppermost level of the Hell Creek rock formation in North and South Dakota - a formation known for abundant fossils of Tyrannosaurus rex and Triceratops. The new dinosaur was eleven and a half feet long, almost 5 feet tall at the hip and weighed an estimated 440 to 660 pounds. Its full cast is on display at the Carnegie Museum.
Anzu is also "one of the youngest oviraptorosaurs known, meaning it lived very close to the dinosaur extinction event" blamed on an asteroid striking Earth 65 million years ago, Schachner says.
The researchers believe Anzu, with large sharp claws, was an omnivore, eating vegetation, small animals and perhaps eggs while living on a wet floodplain.
The study has been published online in journal PLOS ONE.
(Posted on 20-03-2014)