March 23, 2014

"Chicken From Hell’ Dinosaur Gets A Proper Name



IT’S called the chicken from hell: a birdlike dinosaur some 2.1 metres tall that weighed around 225kg when it roamed western North America on its long, slender hind legs

The beast got its nickname long ago at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, where a replica of its skeleton has been on display for a decade.

But the species has had no scientific name. Until now.

The creature was formally introduced to the scientific community as scientists published a description and analysis of its anatomy, and finally bestowed a name: Anzu wyliei. The moniker comes from a mythological feathered demon plus the name of a Carnegie museum trustee's grandson.


The analysis, in the journal PLoS One, concludes that Anzu belongs to a group of dinosaurs that scientists knew little about, because they had recovered only fragmentary remains from its members. In contrast, the three specimens of Anzu from North and South Dakota that were included in the analysis collectively supply a nearly complete skeleton, said Matthew Lamanna of the Carnegie museum.

Anzu “reveals the anatomy of these creatures almost from head to toe,” said Lamanna, lead author of the new paper.

The dinosaur lived some 66 million to 68 million years ago in a hot and humid landscape, rather like the Louisiana bayou, he said. It ate plants and maybe small animals when it wasn't fleeing from a hungry and much bigger T. rex, he said.

When it came to naming the creature, why not go with a spiffed-up version of “chicken from hell?”

That was actually the first choice, Mr Lamanna said. But it turns out the phrase isn't nearly as catchy in Latin or Greek.

“All the names we came up with were just ridiculously unpronounceable,” he said.

So “I thought that if I couldn't come up with a name that literally meant 'chicken from hell,' I could at least name it 'feathered demon.' ”

An Illustration showing the dinosaur Anzu wyliei, nicknamed the “chicken from hell”. Source: AP

Picture and Story with thank to The Australian (Pay Wall)

Scientists in the US have announced the discovery of a new species of dinosaur. The fossils offer further clues to how the dinosaurs became extinct 66 million years ago.

Anzu wyliei is a strange bird-like creature that has a bony crest on top of a beaky head and a long tail like a lizard. It was identified from the partial remains of three skeletons collected in North and South Dakota.

Join the BBC's Jane O'Brien as she speaks with Hans Sues, the Curator of the National Museum of Natural History.

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