Strange New Dinosaur Discovered in Utah

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A seven foot tall, two legged bird-like creature has been discovered in a remote area of southern Utah.

Meet Hagryphus giganteus, an odd but ominous dinosaur that certainly looks more like a bird than a dino.

Scott Sampson, Chief Curator, Utah Museum of Natural History: "This specimen in front of me is the only one in the world. This is the only specimen from hagryphus giganteus anywhere on the planet. So it's very rare and very special."

Special in many ways because the well preserved bones were found in our own backyard, in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

Though a dedicated egg sitting, toothless dino with a beak, this animal was something you would not want to mess with.

Scott Sampson: "This particular animal was almost certainly a carnivore. To have claws like this generally suggests this is a meat eating animal."

UMNH_new dinosaur discoveryHagryphus Giganeteus lived 75 million years ago, very near the end of the dinosaur times we're most familiar with. If this was another part of a long and grand transition period, it would explain the oddity.

Scott Sampson: "We know birds are dinosaurs, direct descendants of dinosaurs. If you like eating chicken, you like eating dinosaurs. These particular animals, these overraptors, are closely related to birds; they're closely related to dinosaurs that led to the rise of birds."

For paleontologists, Grand Staircase is turning out to be a gold mine for dinosaur specimens and new dinos never discovered before."

Scott Sampson: "Grand Staircase represents the last major dinosaur bone yard in the 48 states that hasn't been explored yet."

Hagryphus is just one of many new dinos discovered so far in a five year collaborative project between Grand Staircase and the University of Utah.

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