Thursday, April 06, 2006

Hagryphus giganteus

Image of Nomingia (not Hagryphus) © Mike Skrepnick

From Yahoo

Fossils discovered in southern Utah are from a new species of birdlike dinosaur that resembled a 7-foot-tall brightly colored turkey and could run up to 25 mph.

Fossils of the hand-like claw and foot of Hagryphus giganteus were found in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument near the Arizona border. Smaller variations of the dinosaur had been found previously in Montana, South Dakota and the Canadian province of Alberta.

"This is the southernmost occurrence of this group of ‘raptors’, and it's about two times the size of the ones up north," said Lindsay Zanno, a doctoral student at the University of Utah who named the new dinosaur last December.

The dinosaur had a strong toothless beak, powerful arms and formidable claws that made it capable of eating animals and plants. Large feathers grew on its hind end, giving it a resemblance to a turkey.

Mike Getty, collections manager at the university's Museum of Natural History, found the fossils in 2001. Scientists needed several years to excavate the fossils and publish their findings, he said.