The Tyrannosaurus rex, Stegosaurus, and Brontosaurus are the celebrities of the dinosaur world, though none of those have come attached to nicknames quite as memorable as the "chicken from hell." That's the moniker for the Anzu wyliei, a newly-classified dinosaur that lived some 66 million years ago, and whose fossilized remains were dug up from a section of the Hell Creek Formation between North and South Dakota (hence the name). Details about the creature were detailed in a paper published today, and co-authored by researchers from the Smithsonian, the University of Utah, and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, which currently houses the fossils.
"A mosaic of features."
According to Carnegie Museum paleontologist Matthew Lamanna, who spoke with the Washington Post, the Anzu was a cross between a bird and more traditionally-established dinosaurs like a brontosaurus, making it an unusual find. "This animal, Anzu, has a mosaic of features of both of those groups, and so it basically provides a really nice link in the evolutionary chain," he said. The creature has been classified a part of the Oviraptorosaurs group, egg-laying, feathered dinosaurs whose fossilized remains have been found in Asia and North America.
The discovery required a more complete collection of the animal, which The Guardian says took excavating the partial remains from three different animals. Based on the fossils, the bird is believed to have lived during the Cretaceous period, spanned about 11 feet from nose to tail, weighed 500 pounds, and sported claws.