Scientists have found a new type of dinosaur with feathers, large claws and a beak. Due to the appearance of the new bird-like dinosaur, scientists have decided to unofficially call it the "chicken from hell."
The word "threatening" is probably the last description that would come to mind when thinking about a modern chicken. However, the opposite holds true for the newly discovered dinosaur Anzu wyliei. The dinosaur' was aptly named after the "Anzu," a mythical winged creature from Sumerian legends. The intimidating bird-like dinosaur weighed over 225 kilograms. Unlike most dinosaurs it had a bird like beak with no teeth and it was also completely covered by feathers. The 3.5 meter long dinosaur also had large claws and a bony crest on top of its head.
"It was a giant raptor, but with a chicken-like head and presumably feathers. The animal stood about 10 feet tall, so it would be scary as well as absurd to encounter," said Emma Schachner, a biology postdoctoral fellow from the University of Utah. Schachner is also one of the co-author of a paper published in the online journal PLOS ONE.
While Anzu had the appearance of a mutated monster chicken, it was definitely a dinosaur and not a bird. The strange looking dinosaur lived around 66 million to 68 million years ago during the Cretaceous Period.
"I am really excited about this discovery because Anzu is the largest oviraptorosaur found in North America," Schachner said. "Oviraptorosaurs are a group of dinosaurs that are closely related to birds and often have strange, cassowary-like crests on their heads." (The cassowary is a flightless bird in New Guinea and Australia related to emus and ostriches.)
Three fossilized specimens of Anzu were found preserved in a sedimentary rock layer from three different locations around North and South Dakota. Since it was found in an area referred to as the Hell Creek Formation, the scientists who excavated the dinosaur quickly settled on the humorous nickname "chicken from hell."
"Two of the specimens display evidence of pathology," Schachner added. "One appears to have a broken and healed rib, and the other has evidence of some sort of trauma to a toe."
While the physical appearance of Anzu may come as a surprise for most people, paleontologists say that the find helps reinforce the fact that dinosaurs had many bird-like characteristics. The discovery of Anzu helps establish the evolutionary link between dinosaurs and birds due to its intermediary appearance.