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Balaur Bondoc 2010 Dinosaur of the Year

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Balaur Bondoc 2010 Dinosaur of the Year

Old 09-02-10, 09:37 AM
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Balaur Bondoc 2010 Dinosaur of the Year





Fossil Hunters in Romania Find a 2-Clawed Relative of Velociraptor
By JOHN NOBLE WILFORD

Nothing quite like it, a dinosaur with two sicklelike claws on each foot, was known to live in the final period of the age of great reptiles. Little wonder fossil hunters in Romania were astonished when they unearthed remains of a distant relative of Velociraptor, the familiar single-claw predator of fierce repute, and saw its unusual stocky limbs and double-clawed feet.

The discoverers reported on Monday that the dinosaur, the size of a gigantic turkey, was a meat-eating creature that lived more than 65 million years ago in the Late Cretaceous period. They named it Balaur bondoc, which means “stocky dragon.”

Romanian scientists and other experts said that Balaur is the first reasonably complete skeleton of a predatory dinosaur from Europe at that time. Of perhaps surpassing importance, they said, the discovery may provide insights into the development of dinosaurs and other animals in a long-ago European ecosystem much different from that of today.

Before the end of the Cretaceous, Europe was an archipelago of islands in higher seas. Previous fossil discoveries indicated that life there followed the pattern known as the “island effect.” Animals in isolation, including plant-eating dinosaurs, often evolved as smaller, more primitive versions of their continental relatives. Balaur both did and did not seem to conform to the pattern.

In a report this week in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the discovery team said the unusual species “provides support for the aberrant nature of the Late Cretaceous European island-dwelling dinosaurs, but indicates that predators on these islands were not necessarily small, geographically endemic or primitive.”

Not being geographically endemic, the scientists said, meant that Balaur showed kinship to dinosaurs outside Europe, and so there must have been connections with life in Asia and North America. But it was unclear, they noted, if “the ‘island effect’ was expressed differently, or at all, in these animals.”

The lead author of the research paper was Zoltan Csiki, a paleontologist at the University of Bucharest, and one of the co-authors was Matyas Vremir, a geologist at the Transylvanian Museum Society, who excavated the fossils over the last 10 years.

“We’ve been waiting for something like this, and it’s really, really weird,” Mark A. Norell, a dinosaur paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History and a co-author of the paper, said in an interview last week.

The researchers said the Balaur skeleton showed at least 20 characteristics in the foot, leg and pelvis not seen in other predatory dinosaurs. The most singular of these is the two sharp claws on each foot, one evolved from the big toe, the other from the second toe. It appeared that the stout lower limbs were used to grasp and disembowel prey.

Stephen L. Brusatte, a graduate student at Columbia University who analyzed the fossils, said that compared to Velociraptor, “Balaur was probably more of a kickboxer than a sprinter, and it might have been able to take down larger animals than itself, as many carnivores do today.”

It is “a new breed of predatory dinosaur,” he said, “very different from anything we have ever known.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/31/sc...gewanted=print

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Awesome. A kick-boxing dinosaur.
Old 09-02-10, 10:24 AM
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Re: Balaur Bondoc 2010 Dinosaur of the Year

Hmm, didn't see that in Jurrasic Park.
Old 09-02-10, 10:39 AM
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Re: Balaur Bondoc 2010 Dinosaur of the Year

Dino upskirts...

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