Scientists have identified the remains of the smallest dinosaur species ever found in North America, reports National Geographic. Hesperonychus elizabethae was a Cretaceous-era carnivore no bigger than a chicken, according to researchers. Scientists believe the existence of the Velociraptor cousin helps confirm that dinosaurs, not mammals, filled the role of small predators in long-ago North America.
Researchers first thought the tiny bones belonged to a juvenile, but realized it was an adult after observing the hip bones were fused. The birdlike, tree-hugging dinosaur's curved hip bones also may shed light on the origin of flight. Dinosaur bones this small are exceedingly rare, scientists say, but this new find may point to the existence of even smaller dinosaurs.