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


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

If it seems like a duck…it might be a curious new dinosaur, Halszkaraptor escuilliei. The Mongolian maniraptor is a mouthful to say and a, uhm, glory to behold. However probably the most fascinating factor about it’s the way it apparently lived.

Fossiliferous Mongolia has given dinosaur fanatics a trove of discoveries over time, from the hauls taken in in the course of the escapades of Roy Chapman Andrews again within the day to more moderen key finds, comparable to almost full skeletons of Deinocheirus mirificus, as soon as identified solely from its huge arms. However wait, there’s extra: the most recent Mongolian dino to make the educational press is a doozy.

H. escuilliei (I’ll simply name him Hal for brief) was round roughly 73 million years in the past and belongs to the maniraptors, the dinosaur lineage that features birds and their closest kinfolk. However this man had a variety of options distinctive within the group.


Let’s begin with that neck. Sure, it’s lengthy, proportionally the longest neck-to-body ratio among the many bird-ish dinosaurs. Hal apparently used that neck to go swanning about (heh), foraging and ambush looking. And sure, there was positively some looking occurring: The form and variety of tooth Hal had are much like aquatic predators.

The brand new dino additionally has uncommon forelimbs: The lengthy bones are flattened, suggesting a flipper-like look and performance not not like a penguin’s higher limbs.

By now you is perhaps considering waaaaaaait a minute…aquatic predators…penguins…low cost duck-themed puns…are you saying-

Sure, I’m saying that the researchers imagine Hal was an amphibious dinosaur, in a position to stroll on land on its hindlimbs and paddle about in water utilizing its flipper-like forelimbs.

That is fairly thrilling stuff while you suppose that aquatic or amphibious dinosaurs are few and much between (Spinosaurus being probably the most well-known).

Not Ducking The Huge Query

If you happen to’re questioning the place the duck comparability is available in, researchers discovered skeletal variations that recommend the long-necked dinosaur developed with its middle of mass shifted to the hip area. This allowed it to stroll extra erect on land than different bipedal dinosaurs; it’s a function additionally seen in geese and different short-tailed birds.

(As for the feathers…common readers understand how a lot I love feathered dinosaurs when there may be strong proof to help their featheriness. And sure, primarily based on what paleontologists have present in different maniraptors, it’s a very good wager Hal was rocking the fluffy stuff, as illustrated within the artist rendering.)

A dinosaur this intriguing wants a terrific backstory for its identify as effectively, and Hal has it. Its full identify honors each the late Polish paleontologist Halszka Osmólska and François Escuillié, who was liable for getting the specimen, which had been poached and remains to be partially embedded in rock, again to Mongolia.

Learn extra about Hal at this time in Nature.

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