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The wild bird of prey discovered in New Mexico was a fast hunter



  Artistic conception of Dineobellator notohesperus, together with some contemporaries, including the long-necked Alamosaurus and the three-headed Ojoceratops.

Artistic conception of Dineobellator notohesperus, together with some contemporaries, including the long-necked Alamosaurus and the three-headed Ojoceratops.
Image : Sergey Krasovskiy

As the Jurassic Park films made clear, raptors should not be underestimated due to their medium construction, speed and mobility. A newly discovered bird of prey from New Mexico reinforces our perception of these extinct predators .

Welcome Dineobellator notohesperus [1945901010] a completely new species of dromaeosaurids, a group of dinosaurs commonly known as birds of prey. The paleontologist Steven Jasinski from the State Museum of Pennsylvania and colleagues found the fossil in the Ojo Alamo Formation in the San Juan Basin in New Mexico in a sediment layer from the late Cretaceous period between 70 million and ] 68 million years ago. Your analysis of the newly described species was published today in Scientific Reports.

The name Dineobellator pronounced “Di-NAY-oh-bell-ah-torr”, is derived from Diné, the Navajo word for the Navajo people, and Bellator, which in Latin means warriors means. Indeed, this thing was a warrior.

This dinosaur was spanned from tip to tail and had a length of around 2 meters (19459013) and a height of around 1 meter (19459013) at the hip. The authors say it's a medium-sized bird of prey, but what this predator lacked in size was made up for in speed, agility, and strength. Dineobellator was able to destroy small prey, but if these dinosaurs hunted in a pack – possibly unambiguously – they could knock down creatures of considerable size.

  Artist's impression of Dineobellator notohesperus, which stands above its nest. Artist's impression of Dineobellator notohesperus standing above its nest.
Image : Mary P. Williams / Steven Jasinski

Dromaeosaurids were small to medium-sized theropods that lived during the Cretaceous Period . L Like other theropods, they stood on two feet and had feathers, hollow bones, and feet that were equipped with three evil claws. The newly described dinosaur was added to the Velociraptorinae subfamily, which also includes Velociraptors. The discovery of dineobellator is important because dromaeosaurids are relatively rare in the fossil record.

In total, the scientists identified 20 different elements in the dineobellator fossil, including parts of the front legs, hands, feet and tail. Analysis of these fossilized bones helped researchers distinguish them from similar dromaeosaurs, including Velociraptor .

Some features that distinguish dineobellator from velociraptor include [19659015] parts of the humerus, hand and foot claws, as well as the vertebrae near the base of the tail, while Features shared with Velociraptor and other Velociraptor-like dromaeosaurids have features that can be seen in The brain, teeth, tail vertebrae, thigh bones and foot bones, Jasinski explained in one Email to Gizmodo.

Dineobellator had strong arms and a strong grip, as the suspected way shows how his muscles were attached to his bones. It also had a long, stiff tail, which served as a kind of oar and kept the creature in balance while running.

  Skeletal reconstruction of Dineobellator notohesperus, which shows a selection of the fossilized bones obtained.

Skeletal reconstruction of Dineobellator notohesperus with a selection of the fossilized bones obtained.
Image : Steven Jasinski

Taken together, these features, though subtle, suggest that dineobellator may have behaved differently from other dromaeosaurs.

“This would have been easiest recognized when it was hunting and preying. The tail of Dineobellator suggests that it could be an excellent persecutor who uses his tail as a counterweight and is incredibly agile, ”said Jasinski to Gizmodo. "Think of videos of a cheetah chasing a gazelle: I its tail is straight, but it whips around because the cheetah has to change direction quickly to follow an escaping gazelle. Dineobellator might have swung his tail around to be very agile when chased, while other dromaeosaurids appear to have tails that would have been held directly to the body. “

Related species were fast straight lines when entering, but probably not as good as dineobellator when changing direction. During the hunt dineobellator which weighed around 18 to 22 kilograms, probably prey, jumped on its back and killed it, said Jasinski.

Regarding prey, dineobellator was a pure carnivore that fed on relatively small animals. However, paleontologists already have evidence that raptors in packs were hunted like modern wolves. Together, dineobellators could have killed "prey that is many times larger than itself," said Jasinski.

  lead author Steven Jasinski performing field work.

lead author Steven Jasinski performing field work.
Image : Steven Jasinski

Dineobellator lived in what is now northwest of New Mexico. At that time, this area consisted of a warm meadow with decent amounts of open areas and nearby forests. Other dinosaurs in the same area at that time were the giant four-legged friend Alamosaurus Oviraptors, Tyrannosaurs, Hadrosaurs and Troodons. The more well-known animals included turtles, crocodiles as well as small birds and mammals.

Fascinatingly, the fossil dineobellator showed signs of injury. Given that this bird of prey lived next to T. rex we can only imagine the difficulties it regularly got into.

“A broken and healed rib indicates an injury that the animal has lived with for some time so that the bone can heal. This would indicate a rough life, ”said Jasinski. "A puncture and a puncture site on the claw indicate a fight between two dineobellators . This was probably a fight between two dineobellators for resources, or rather between men fighting to mate with a woman. All of this indicates an active lifestyle for a fast, agile predator. “

As already mentioned, dineobellator was added to the Velociraptorinae subfamily, which also includes the genus Velociraptor There are several known species. The authors say the new fossil is further evidence that dromaeosaurids in the late Cretaceous period of North America only adapted and evolved a few million years before the mass extinction that wiped out all non-bird dinosaurs.

"Dromaeosaurids were still experimenting with new features that allowed them to become better hunters, at least in certain hunting styles such as chases," said Jasinski. "This is further evidence that dromaeosaurs lived with tyrannosaurs and were important components of ecosystems at the end of the Cretaceous period."


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