Paleontologists have discovered what they say is a completely unexpected semi-aquatic theropod dinosaur that lived 75 million years ago in what is now Mongolia.
Representation of an artist of Halszkaraptor escuilliei . Image credit: Lukas Panzarin / Andrea Cau.
The new dinosaur, called Halszkaraptor escuilliei is a strange new anomaly in the world of dinosaurs.
He walked on two legs on land, with postural adaptations similar to short-tailed birds (such as ducks), but uses his forelegs as fins to maneuver in water (such as penguins and other waterfowl), relying on his long neck to look for food and to ambush.
"The first time I examined the specimen, I even questioned whether it was a genuine fossil," said Dr. Andrea Cau, researcher at the Geological and Palaeontological Museum & Giovanni Capellini & # 39; in Bologna, Italy.
"The unexpected combination of traits makes it difficult to place Halszkaraptor escuilliei within the traditional clbadifications."
In order to determine the integrity of the sample, it was visualized and reconstructed in 3D using Multi-resolution synchrotron X-ray microtomography.
te Currently, chnique is the most powerful and sensitive method to obtain images of internal details without damaging priceless fossils, "said Dr. Paul Tafforeau, of the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble, France.
] "Our first objective was to show that this strange and unexpected fossil is in fact a genuine animal: exploration with multiple resolution confirmed that the skeleton is not a compound badembled from parts of different dinosaurs," added Dr. Dennis Voeten, also from ESRF.
"We implemented new methods for the acquisition and optimization of tomography data, which not only confirmed the integrity of the specimen, but also revealed additional paleontological information," said ESRF researcher Dr. Vincent Fernández
The synchrotron was even able to reveal, with amazing detail, those parts of the skeleton that have remained in the deep or from the rock since the dinosaur was buried.
"Our badysis showed that numerous teeth, which are not visible externally, are still preserved inside the mouth," said ESRF scientist Dr. Vincent Beyrand.
"We also identify a neurovascular mesh within its snout that resembles that of modern crocodiles to a remarkable degree.These aspects suggest that Halszkaraptor escuilliei was an aquatic predator."
New dinosaur is unique in many aspects, certain parts of the skeleton, including the "killer claws" Sickle-shaped on their feet, they are shared with dinosaurs known as Velociraptor .
The research was published in the journal Nature .
Andrea Cau et al. . Synchrotron exploration reveals amphibian ecomorphology in a new clade of dinosaurs similar to birds. Nature published online on December 6, 2017; doi: 10.1038 / nature24679