The largest birdlike creature on record stood over 16 feet tall, weighed a ton and a half, and had sharp claws but no teeth. The Chinese paleontologist who unearthed the creature's thigh bone wasn't sure what it was, he tells the San Francisco Chronicle, but as he listed the possibilities for a colleague he realized: "We have a gigantic chicken!"
The discovery of Gigantoraptor erlianensis, reported yesterday in the journal Nature, raises questions about dinosaur evolution. Most dinosaurs got smaller as they evolved and became more birdlike, so this denizen of the fossil-rich Gobi desert is a bit of a mystery. "When it comes to the diversity of dinosaurs," says one expert, "we're still just scratching the surface."