Big Bird Dazzles Paleontologists

Fossil unearthed in Gobi desert reveals record of 26-foot-long 'gigantic chicken'
By Colleen Barry,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 14, 2007 2:27 PM CDT
Big Bird Dazzles Paleontologists
Journalists examine the replica of a fossilized skull, a small scale model and actual fossilized leg bones from the Gigantoraptor erlianensis, whose fossilized bones were uncovered recently in northern China at an unveiling held in Beijing, China, Wednesday, June 13, 2007. The remains of a giant, birdlike...   (Associated Press)

(Newser) – 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." (Read more science stories.)

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