A new bird-like dinosaur species that weighed about the same as a human has been discovered.
The Oviraptor species probably had feathers and a beak and lived around 125 million years ago.
A leg bone of the new oviraptorosaur, was discovered in the Hell Creek formation of North America.
Scientists analyzing the remains believe the dino, which weighed around the same as an average woman, is yet to have been identified.
An artist’s depiction of the feathered dinosaur, which lived up to 130 million years ago, shows its sharp talons and bird-like form with a beak and no teeth.
Researchers from Canada and the United States studied a limb of the creature found at the Hell Creek formation in the north of the United States.
The formation is an intensively studied division of mostly Upper Cretaceous and some lower Paleocene rocks named for exposures studied along Hell Creek, and stretches over four states.
Analysing the bones, the researchers decided the oviraptorosaur was a species never previously identified.
Kyle Atkins-Weltman, a PhD student at Oklahoma State University and author of the study, published in the journal PLOS One, explained that the team’s analysis led them to decipher that the creature – called Eoneophron infernalis – would have been approaching its adult body size.
“We describe a relatively small caenagnathid hindlimb from the Hell Creek Formation, and conduct osteohistological (bone) analysis to assess its maturity,” he said.
“Histological data and morphological differences from Anzu wyliei and other caenagnathids allow us to conclude that this specimen represents a new species of caenagnathid from Hell Creek.
“Oviraptorosaurs ranged from chicken- or turkey-sized, to species which likely weighed more than a tonne.
“Based on their cranial morphology, this diverse clade contained both omnivorous and herbivorous members.
“Although the earliest members of this group retained teeth, they were entirely lost in Late Cretaceous forms.
“Oviraptorosaurs had complex, feathery integument.
“Other exquisite specimens have shown that these dinosaurs were social, actively brooded over their nests, employed a reproductive strategy intermediate between those used by crocodilians and extant birds, and had avian-like brain organisation.”
Mr Atkins-Weltman, said the new species had expanded scientists’ knowledge of the types of dinosaurs living in the area – the earliest ones of which roamed between 125 and 129 million years ago.
“In tandem with histological data indicating that this animal was of subadult or adult status at the time of its death, our research suggests that it represents a new taxon, Eoneophron infernalis,” he said.
“This smaller caenagnathid from the Hell Creek Formation has implications for the ecology and diversity of caenagnathids in the end-Maastrichtian period.
“The ecology of caenagnathids likewise remains poorly understood, but E. infernalis expands the range of morphological variation within the family and suggests that caenagnathid diversity in Laurasia remained largely stable through the Campanian-Maastrichtian, and these dinosaurs remained successful components of Laurasian ecosystems until their extinction.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
“What’s the latest with Florida Man?”
Get news, handpicked just for you, in your box.