The study suggests that it displayed a camouflage effect known as counter-shading. Illustration: Julius Csotonyi/Courtesy of the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology.
It was built like a tank, covered in armour, and weighed about the same as a caravan – but this beefy dinosaur was still at risk of being gobbled up by predators, scientists have discovered.
Thought to have lived about 110m years ago, the giant herbivore is believed to be a type of heavily armoured dinosaur known as a nodosaur and would have reached up to 5.5 metres in length.
On show at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology in Alberta, Canada, its fossilised remains have stunned researchers, who have hailed it as the best-preserved armoured dinosaur in the world.
Not only are its bones preserved, but the fossil also boasts the creature’s armour, stomach contents and even a thin film of organic material, thought to be remains of pigments from the skin and horns.
Knight was one of the foremost American paleoartists, and Laelaps was profoundly influential for its remarkably credible depiction of anatomy and movement.
Note: Some believe that these predators represent the savagely competitive palaeontologists Othniel C Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope, both of whom would blow up dig sites with dynamite to obstruct the other’s discoveries.
The fossilised remains of a bizarre, bird-like dinosaur, nicknamed the “chicken from hell” by scientists, have been unearthed in the United States.
The 66-million-year-old feathered beast would have resembled a beefed-up emu with a long neck, a metre-long tail and a tall crest on its head. At the end of its forelimbs were long, sharp claws.
The creature stood 1.5 metres high at the hip and reached more than three metres from beak to tail. Researchers believe it lived on ancient floodplains and fed on plants, small animals and possibly eggs. An adult weighed up to 300kg.
Researchers dug the remains from mudstone in the Hell Creek formation in North and South Dakota, where fossil hunters have previously excavated bones from Tyrannosaurus rex and triceratops.
Over the past decade they have recovered three partial s
keletons of the animal but until now had not recognised it as a new genus and species of a mysterious family of dinosaurs called Caenagnathidae. The fossils are being kept at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh.
Scientists working on the remains coined the “chicken from hell” monicker, which later influenced their choice of its more formal name, Anzu wyliei. Anzu is the name of a giant bird-like demon from ancient mythology. Wyliei comes from Wylie J Tuttle, the son of a donor who helps to fund research at the museum.
The animal belongs to a group called the oviraptorosaurs, which are mostly known from fossils found in central and east Asia but the remains provide the first detailed picture of the North American oviraptorosaurs.
Dubbed Kryptodrakon progenitor, the beast had a wingspan of 4.5 feet (1.4 meters) as it flew the Jurassic skies about 163 million years ago.
The new species gets its first name from the Latin krypto (hidden) and drakon (serpent), a nod to the movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which was filmed in the desert where the species was discovered. Progenitor refers to its status as the oldest known pterodactyl.
Scientists first discovered fragments of Kryptodrakon’s delicate fossils in 2001 in northwestern China’s remote Shishiugou Formation. That geologic formation has been called a “dinosaur death pit” because ancient quicksand entombed so many prehistoric creatures there.
At first, Kryptodrakon’s bones were misidentified as belonging to a type of two-legged dinosaur called a theropod, said James Clark.
It wasn’t until another scientist assembled the fossil parts into a skeleton several years later that “I looked at it and said, ‘That’s not a theropod, that’s a pterosaur.’ And the rest is history,” said Clark, a biologist at George Washington University’s Columbian College of Arts and Sciences in Washington, D.C.
Pterodactyls are a type of pterosaur, a wider group of flying reptiles that went extinct 66 million years ago.
Because pterodactyl bones are so fragile, little is known about the origins of the ancient dinosaur relative, which eventually evolved into the biggest creature ever to take wing.