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Newly Discovered Dinosaur May Also Be a New Species

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Newly Discovered Dinosaur May Also Be a New Species

Photo Courtesy of chasmosaurs.com

Photo Courtesy of chasmosaurs.com

Photo Courtesy of chasmosaurs.com

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What has a duck’s bill, a swan’s neck, and walks like a penguin? A Halszkaraptor, of course, a dinosaur that is so unusual that scientists are looking at it as a new species, according to MNN.

A research project, published in the journal Nature, is focused on the unusual dinosaur, halszkaraptor – a dinosaur so unusual that scientists are looking at it as a new species, reported MNN.

“What is very special about it is that it looks very weird. It doesn’t look like any other dinosaur that we know so far,” Vincent Fernandez, a paleontologist at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility and co-author of the study, told theguardian.com.

While the new dinosaur may seem like a bird, the halskaraptor is considered non-avian. It’s also a close cousin to the Cretaceous Period’s famously ferocious velociraptor. Besides, there are a few decidedly dinosaur bits – like razor-sharp claws and crocodilian teeth, stated MNN.

The 70-million-year-old dinosaur’s smile was scarier than its bite. Based on an eight-inch chunk of its jawbone and a few loose teeth discovered in France, paleontologists estimate that this dinosaur grew to 16 feet long, and had massive, scissor-like teeth that sharpened themselves as the dinosaur chewed, stated theverge.com. However, these teeth most likely weren’t for meat-eating; instead, researchers think that the dinosaur used its teeth to rip through fibrous leaves, reported theverge.com.

The unusual, turkey-size animal came into scientific hands with an odd backstory. After millions of years entombed in rock, the fossil of the dinosaur was dug up by poachers sometime in the recent past, probably from the Djadokhta Formation in southern Mongolia. The poachers smuggled it out of the country, and most likely sent it through China to the fossil markets in Europe, according to nationalgeographic.com.

Mongolia is the source of more than five percent of all known dinosaur species. However, the country has outlawed fossil exports. But the law has been tough to enforce due to Mongolia’s size and its remote dig sites. For decades, poachers have fueled a top-dollar collector’s market, which often ruin finds for paleontologists, reported nationalgeographic.com.

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Newly Discovered Dinosaur May Also Be a New Species