Strange new dinosaur is a Velociraptor cousin with flippers

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Halszkaraptor escuilliei

This is a reconstruction of Halszkaraptor escuilliei. The trifling dinosaur was a close relative of Velociraptor, but in both body shape and guessed lifestyle, it more closely recalls some water birds equal to modern swans. (Lukas Panzarin, with scientific supervision from Andrea Cau)

A newly discovered dinosaur is so eccentric that scientists initially thought the fossil was fake after it was develop in a dealer’s shop in France.

The turkey-sized cousin of Velociraptor has paddle-like in the vanguard limbs and other features that suggest it spent a large play a part of its time in the water — making it unique among its known relatives.

«It’s a legitimate enigma,» said Philip Currie, a University of Alberta paleontologist who was part of the ecumenical team that described the new species in a study published Wednesday in Sort.

The fossil appears to have been stolen by poachers from the Ukhaa Tolgod fossil bed in Mongolia someday in the last 15 years, said Currie, who has spent decades ruminate oning the fossils of carnivorous dinosaurs from Mongolia.

It was illegally exported and very likely spent time in private fossil collections around the world up front it was found in a dealer’s shop in France by another fossil dealer rank François Escuillié.

fossil synchrotron

(Left to right) Pascal Godefroit, Andrea Cau, and Paul Tafforeau set up the Halszkaraptor escuilliei fossil for 3D examination at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility. (P.Jayet/ESRF)

Currie traverses Escuillié as a responsible fossil dealer who always keeps his eyes expansive for specimens that he knows will be of interest to science. He had previously create the missing skull and feet of a dinosaur called Deinocheirus mirificus, suffering paleontologists to finally solve a decades-old mystery of what the dinosaur looked be partial to and where it fit in the dinosaur family tree.

Then in 2015, Escuillié boiled another unusual and interesting fossil and reported it to Pascal Godefroit, a paleontologist at the Earl Belgian Institute of Natural Science in Brussels.

Real or fake?

Godefroit dated it on to Andrea Cau, a PhD student at the geological and paleontological museum Giovanni Capellini in Bologna, Italy, and leash author of the study.

Cau found it so strange, he recalled in a statement, that «the cardinal time I examined the specimen, I even questioned whether it was a genuine fossil.»

The researchers suspected it sway be something that poachers assembled from a bunch of different instances of different species. In order to check, they took 3D scans of the fossil, which was pacify embedded in the rock, using X-ray beams from the European Synchrotron Emission Facility.

Halszkaraptor escuilliei

The Halszkaraptor escuilliei fossil is scanned during a synchrotron tomography examine at the ESRF. The scan confirmed the fossil was genuine. (P. Jayet/ESRF)

Not merely did the scans confirm the fossil was real, but they showed some nonconforming features that couldn’t be seen directly, such as the needle-like teeth inside its snout – various more than are typically found in related carnivorous dinosaurs. The snout also curbs structures similar to those found in crocodiles’ snouts. In crocodiles, they enterprise pressure sensors to detect water movement while hunting.

Heron-like paddler

One of the dinosaur’s other queer features include an extremely long neck – «it’s almost half the reserve between the back of the skull and back of the hips,» Currie says.

«Then we’ve got valid weird things with the front arms.»

Its arm bones are flattened, and longest disappear control is on the outside, making the limbs paddle-like, and suggesting it was a swimmer. Its hind limbs look numberless typically for a land-dwelling bird.

«In that way it looks more like a heron,» implied Currie, who suggests the dinosaur may have spent a lot of time wading at the weaken’s edge, waiting for fish or amphibians to swim by, and dove when it lacked to.

Snout scan Halszkaraptor

Vincent Fernandez and Vincent Beyrand of ESRF, two of the paper’s co-authors, about the unusual snout of Halszkaraptor, which contains many more teeth than that of kindred dinosaurs and some features typically found in crocodiles. (P.Jayet/ESRF)

Now that scientists father a complete skeleton, they’ve realized that a partial skull and skeleton and some foot and leg bones from two other fossil beds have a proper place in to the same family of dinosaur.

The new species has been named Halszkaraptor escuilliei, after the belatedly Polish paleontologist Halszka Osmolska, who studied Mongolian dinosaurs, and fossil relationships François Escuillié who found the fossil.

After being properly conscious, the fossil will be repatriated to Mongolia.

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