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Bones From The Badlands Belong To New Dinosaur

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Bones From The Badlands Belong To New Dinosaur

Research News

Bones From The Badlands Belong To New Dinosaur

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There was quite a find this week: a new species of raptor dinosaur was discovered in Utah. The ancient creature was small and fast with talon-like toes, and he was a meat eater. Careful there, Brontosaurus.

Dr. Lindsay Zanno led the dig team that found the fossil. She joins us from the studios of WFMT in Chicago.

Thanks so much for being with us.

LINDSAY ZANNO: Thanks for having me.

SIMON: So, the very name rapture terrifies people. Was this a terrifying raptor?

ZANNO: I think, indeed, that name is well put. These animals were incredibly fast, incredibly intelligent and some of them wielded very significant claws and sharp teeth. So it's a good notion.

SIMON: How big was this raptor?

ZANNO: This is not a terribly huge animal. I mean contrary to something like the velociraptors that we saw in "Jurassic Park," this animal was only maybe five feet long about two-and-a-half feet at the hips.

SIMON: Well, big enough to do some damage though, right?

ZANNO: Definitely - definitely an overgrown, vicious Labrador retriever-sized animal.

SIMON: And I've read it had feathers?

ZANNO: Yes, we know that this group of dinosaurs would have been feathered. In fact, this particular group of dinosaurs was very, very closely related to modern birds, which are in fact living dinosaurs that made it through that mass extinction event 65 million years ago, and are still living along side of us today.

SIMON: So does this raptor have a short, nasty, brutish life or is it hard to say?

ZANNO: Yeah, I think that's a fair assessment. I mean one of the interesting things about discovery is we had known for a long time that the specialized talon, on the foot of raptor dinosaurs, wasn't used for walking. And so it was kind of disturbing that if the hypothesis was that these animals were putting this toe regularly in harms way, it was kind of disturbing that we'd never found any fossils showing any injury to this particular part of their body.

So I think that finding Talos was something that we were all waiting for. And it was a confirmation of something that we'd been speculating about for a long time.

SIMON: Does he have a name, like Suzy...


SIMON: ...there was one there in Chicago?

ZANNO: Well, no. But in a very real way, given that I named the species name after a good friend and colleague of mine, Scott Sampson, who is the...

SIMON: My God, is the raptor called Scott?


ZANNO: It's called Talos sampsoni.


ZANNO: And I know Scott, of course, is his famous for being Dr. Scott of the PBS "Dinosaur Train" kids' television show.

SIMON: Yes, of course. I know that one. Oh, my, word. So never considered naming the raptor Scott, uh?

ZANNO: No, we generally stick to the last names on those.


SIMON: Dr. Lindsay Zanno, paleontologists joining us from WFMT in Chicago. Thanks so much.

ZANNO: Thank you.

SIMON: This is NPR News.

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