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Utah Travel Headlines

Sunday, October 02, 2011

New Feathered Raptor Dinosaur Fossils Discovered In Utah

Paleontologists in Utah have unearthed fossils from a new dinosaur species, and have now published detailed information about their findings.

The fossils will soon be on display in the Utah Museum of Natural History, in Salt Lake City. The museum is one of several Utah attractions that have great dinosaurs exhibits.

Called Talos sampsonsi, the creature lived in the rainy, "hothouse world" of late-Cretaceous North America, according to this report in National Geographic. The finding is significant for many reasons, some of which are described in the article excerpts below.

Talk about a lucky break—paleontologists have found "incredibly rare" fossils of a new species of raptor dinosaur that severely fractured its giant-clawed foot about 76 million years ago, paleontologists say.

It's one of the few troodontid theropods—small, birdlike predators—ever discovered in North America, said study leader Lindsay Zanno, a vertebrate paleontologist at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.

Perhaps most exciting about Talos is its injured second toe, which has added to an existing debate on what troodontids did with the giant, sickle-like claw on that toe, study leader Zanno said.

... Instead, Talos may have wielded its claw like a puncturing device when hunting, for example by getting a foothold as the raptor scrambled up a larger animal's back, Zanno said. Or, like some modern-day birds, the dinosaur may have used the claw as a weapon while fighting with other dinosaur rivals.

It's "giving us a window into the biology of the animal that we don't get from your average, everyday specimen," Zanno said.


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