WASHINGTON – With a beak like a duck but teeth like a crocodile, a gooseneck and killer claws, a new species of dinosaur discovered by scientists seems something Dr. Seuss could have dreamed. He also had fins like a penguin, and while walking like an ostrich he could also swim.
That is the first time that swimming ability has been demonstrated for a two-legged carnivorous dinosaur.
The tiny creature, barely 18 inches tall, wandered 75 million years ago in what is now Mongolia. His full huddled skeleton was found in a sandstone rock.
"It's such a peculiar animal," said Dennis Voeten, a paleontology researcher at Palacky University in the Czech Republic. "It combines different parts that we know of other groups in this little animal."
In a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature, Voeten and his coauthors named him Halszkaraptor escuilliei or "Halszka" in honor of the late Polish paleontologist Halszka Osmolska.
Paleontologist Kristi Curry Rogers of Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, who was not involved in the study, called it "a pretty crazy chimera: a swan neck and a dinosaur body, but with a mouth full of teeth and small hands "and feet that appear to be good for swimming."
His mashup body let him run and hunt on the ground and fish in fresh water, said study co-author Paul Tafforeau, an ESRF paleontologist, known as the European synchrotron in Grenoble, France, a powerful X-ray generator where numerous tests were carried out on the fossil.
The lead author Andrea Cau, paleontologist at the Capellini Geological Museum in Bologna, Italy, said that at first it was very suspicious about the authenticity of the fossil, both for its appearance and for the fact that the rock containing the skeleton had been smuggled out of Mongolia and left in the hands of a private collector.
"I asked myself Same, is this a real, natural skeleton, or an artifact, a chimera? If this is false, how could I prove it? "Cau said in an email." Assuming it was false instead of beginning assuming that the fossil is genuine was the most appropriate way to start a fossil investigation. so strange. "
Therefore, the researchers used the synchrotron to create three-dimensional images of the fossil, which showed that the creature was in fact a single animal and not a mixture created from several sources. The arm hidden in the rock fitted perfectly to the visible left arm, and the lines indicating growth coincided with the bones.
Although the creature was not invented by Dr. Seuss, it received a blessing from Dr. Sues.
] Hans Sues, a paleontologist at the Smithsonian Institution who was not part of the research, praised the work and said it "shows again how incredibly diverse dinosaurs were."
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