After stumbling across the partially fossilized skeleton of an Anzu wyliei, scientists say they believe the 10-foot tall feathered dinosaur dubbed the "chicken from hell" roamed the U.S. some 66 million years ago.
Researchers recently found the fossils encased in mudstone in the Hell Creek formation of the Dakotas, where they also discovered bones from a Tyrannosaurus rex and a triceratops, The Guardian reported
. The newspaper noted that the bones are being kept at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, Pa.
The dinosaur's name, Anzu wyliei, is reportedly a mix between the Anzu, a giant bird-like demon from ancient mythology, and Wylie J. Tuttle, the son of a donor who helps to fund research at the museum.
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The Anzu wyliei belongs to a dinosaur group named the oviraptorosaurs, which are mainly recognized from fossils found in central and east Asia, but the remains provide the first detailed picture of such creatures in North America, according to The Guardian.
"For almost a hundred years, the presence of oviraptorosaurs in North America was only known from a few bits of skeleton, and the details of their appearance and biology remained a mystery," Hans-Dieter Sues, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, told the newspaper. "With the discovery of A. wyliei, we finally have the fossil evidence to show what this species looked like and how it is related to other dinosaurs."
Matt Lamanna, an assistant curator at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, told CNN that the dinosaur
probably weighed about 600 pounds and looked like a cross between an ostrich and a velociraptor.
"You might think this was a really, really weird-looking bird," he said. "But, in fact, this was a very bird-like dinosaur . . . with a really long bony tail, very large hands and really sharp claws."
Lamanna told CNN that the dinosaur likely ate vegetation, small animals, and eggs, and would have been a prime target of the Tyrannosaurus rex.
The Anzu wyliei discovery was detailed Wednesday in the scientific journal PLOS One.
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