Duck, Duck, Dinosaur! Meet Halszkaraptor, A Mongolian Mash-Up

No, not an escapee from the Island of Dr. Moreau. It's Halszkaraptor escuilliei, a newly described dinosaur with an surprising multiple of traits. (Credit Lukas Panzarin)

No, not an escapee from the Island of Dr. Moreau. It’s Halszkaraptor escuilliei, a newly described dinosaur with an surprising multiple of traits. (Credit Lukas Panzarin)

If it looks like a duck…it may be a extraordinary new dinosaur, Halszkaraptor escuilliei. The Mongolian maniraptor is a swig to contend and a, uhm, excellence to behold. But the many engaging thing about it is how it apparently lived.

Fossiliferous Mongolia has given dinosaur enthusiasts a trove of discoveries over the years, from the hauls taken in during the escapades of Roy Chapman Andrews back in the day to some-more new pivotal finds, such as scarcely finish skeletons of Deinocheirus mirificus, once famous only from its huge arms. But wait, there’s more: the latest Mongolian dino to make the educational press is a doozy.

H. escuilliei (I’ll just call him Hal for short) was around roughly 73 million years ago and belongs to the maniraptors, the dinosaur origin that includes birds and their closest relatives. But this man had a series of facilities singular in the group.

Swanosaurus

Let’s start with that neck. Yes, it’s long, proportionally the longest neck-to-body ratio among the bird-ish dinosaurs. Hal apparently used that neck to go swanning about (heh), foraging and waylay hunting. And yes, there was really some sport going on: The figure and series of teeth Hal had are identical to nautical predators.

The new dino also has surprising forelimbs: The prolonged skeleton are flattened, suggesting a flipper-like coming and duty not distinct a penguin’s top limbs.

By now you competence be meditative waaaaaaait a minute…aquatic predators…penguins…cheap duck-themed puns…are you saying-

Yes, we am observant that the researchers trust Hal was an amphibious dinosaur, means to walk on land on its hindlimbs and paddle about in water using its flipper-like forelimbs.

This is flattering sparkling things when you consider that nautical or amphibious dinosaurs are few and distant between (Spinosaurus being the many famous).

Not Ducking The Big Question

If you’re wondering where the steep comparison comes in, researchers found fundamental adaptations that advise the long-necked dinosaur developed with its core of mass shifted to the hip region. This allowed it to walk some-more make on land than other bipedal dinosaurs; it’s a underline also seen in ducks and other short-tailed birds.

(As for the feathers…regular readers know how much we love feathered dinosaurs when there is strong justification to support their featheriness. And yes, formed on what paleontologists have found in other maniraptors, it’s a good gamble Hal was rocking the feathery stuff, as illustrated in the artist rendering.)

A dinosaur this intriguing needs a good backstory for its name as well, and Hal has it. Its full name honors both the late Polish paleontologist Halszka Osmólska and François Escuillié, who was obliged for getting the specimen, which had been poached and is still partially embedded in rock, back to Mongolia.

Read some-more about Hal today in Nature.

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