A new dinosaur has been described by a team of paleontologists in the open access journal PLoS ONE. The dinosaur described is a theropod oviraptorosaur that roamed in the late Cretaceous period, which extends from 145 to 66 million years ago. Oviraptorosaurs ranged in size from about that of a chicken, to weighing in at a whopping metric ton, and were probably omnivores or herbivores. Oviraptorosaurs have been described before, but the fossils were very incomplete. This study extensively investigated three very well preserved partial skeletons from North and South Dakota.
The dinosaurs described in the study were named Anzu wyliei; Anzu after a bird-like demon from Mesoptamian mythology, and wyliei after the grandson of a Carnegie Museum trustee, Wylie. One of the specimens was calculated to weigh a total of 300 kilograms. They were found to be around 3.5 meters long, and 1.5 meters tall at the hip. Matthew Lamanna, lead author of the study, said in a statement “We jokingly call this thing the ‘chicken from hell’ and I think that’s pretty appropriate.” The fossils were recovered from the Hell Creek Formation in North America.
The majority of oviraptorosaurs were feathered and had bird-like brains. They also lacked teeth in most cases, which can help infer their likely diet. A. wyliei probably fed on vegetation and small animals, and maybe eggs, on humid coastal plains of western North America. They likely favoured floodplain habitats as oppose to drier land, and didn’t spend much time in trees.
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