Scientists have discovered a gigantic, feathered raptor in the famous Hell Creek Formation of South Dakota. The newly identified animal has been named after the space it has been discovered in; scientists are referring to it as Dakotaraptor. Its scientific name is Dakotaraptor steini.
The research team making this discovery was led by Robert DePalma, the Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology at the Palm Beach Museum of Natural History. The newly discovered super-raptor used to live around 66 million years back and was around 17 ft in length, which makes is one of the biggest raptors found to date and the biggest among the ones with wing feathers.
DePalma informed that Dakotaraptor was a raptor from the Cretaceous period and was probably built lightly. According to him, the creature was possibly as agile as the fierce and much smaller theropods like Velociraptor.
When examining the fossils, the research team came across signs of the presence of quill knobs that were pointing to the part that would have attached the creature’s feathers to its forearms. DePalma said that those knobs are the first set of evidence supporting the presence feather quills on a massive dromaeosaurid forearm. The findings of the study have been detailed in a recently published paper in the journal Paleontological Contributions.
Other than informing us about the size of the giant raptor, this find has allowed scientists to have a much clearer picture of the animal’s pecking order.
David Burnham of the University of Kansas, who also happens to be one of the coauthors of the study, said that this find is special as the newfound predatory dinosaur fills up the longstanding gap between giant tyrannosaurs and smaller theropods that existed during the same era.
Dinosaur expert Peter Larson, another coauthor of the study, on the other hand, has found it quite surprising that so many fossils of a single creature were found in Hell Creek. He said that sediment gathered pretty slowly at the Hell Creek, as a result of which the majority of the dinosaurs either got carried away or eaten by other creatures. Unlike this new find, most finds in this region consisted either of a bone bed containing fossils that didn’t have any link with each other or tiny individual fossils.