The newly discovered dinosaur looks like a nightmare goose

The newly discovered dinosaur looks like a nightmare goose

A paleoart illustration of the recently discovered species.

The 70 odd-Millions of years old remains were found in southern Mongolia.
illustration: Yusik Choi.

Paleontologists discovered a 71-million-year-old carnivorous dinosaur in southern Mongolia that they believe they had a body built for swimming and diving for prey. Although it looks a lot like a modern bird, it’s actually a non-avian dinosaur, meaning it’s likely an example of convergent evolution, a phenomenon. in which unrelated creatures develop similar traits.

The dinosaur is called Natovenator polydontus, or “swimming hunter with many teeth”. Recent analysis of their indicate fossilized remains the animal was bipedal i built for diving. A full description of the newly discovered animal is published in Communication Biology.

“Finding semi-aquatic dinosaurs means that ecological diversity was very high in dinosaurs,” Yuong-Nam Lee, a paleontologist at Seoul National University and lead author of the study, wrote in an email to Gizmodo. “More than 30 different lineages of tetrapods have independently invaded aquatic ecosystems. Why not for dinosaurs?”

An illustration of the recently discovered species, which looks like an aquatic bird with a long tail.

An illustration of the recently discovered species.
illustration: Yusik Choi.

In addition to its many teeth, N. polydontus he had a slender body and a long neck. From the rump up, the extinct dinosaur may have looked a lot like a goose or cormorant, a modern one diving bird, but it had a long tail. The skeleton is incomplete: researchers found its skull, spine, a forelimb and some of the two hind limbs, but the animal’s morphology could be deduced from the remains found.

“The angle between each rib shaft and its associated articulated vertebra is very low, like many diving birds, but in contrast to terrestrial theropods,” Lee said. “Some extant diving birds . . .such as acids and phalacrocoracids–they also have ribs that extend posteriorly. In these animals, the ribs facing backwards help in swimming by making the body more aerodynamic.

Lee’s team waits they can find the bird’s stomach contents, to learn more about its diet. This type of discovery is not unprecedented; last year, paleontologists found the fossilized marine equivalent of a turducken in present-day Germany.

Also last year, a different team made up of many of the same researchers behind the new paper announced the discovery of an armored ankylosaur from the same region of Mongolia. They put that ankylosaurs may have dug defensive trenches when they were threatened, a lot like modern horned lizards.

More fossils will need to be found to better test these ideas, but overall, the fossils show the dynamism of biodiversity in the Cretaceous.

More: Paleontologists find evidence of dinosaurs nesting near the North Pole

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