Stocky Dinosaur With Menacing Toes Unearthed Reporting in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers describe a new predatory dinosaur from the late Cretaceous period in Europe. Balaur bondoc (Romanian for "stocky dragon") is huskier than its relative the Velociraptor.
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Stocky Dinosaur With Menacing Toes Unearthed

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Stocky Dinosaur With Menacing Toes Unearthed

Stocky Dinosaur With Menacing Toes Unearthed

Stocky Dinosaur With Menacing Toes Unearthed

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/129629748/129629733" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Reporting in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers describe a new predatory dinosaur from the late Cretaceous period in Europe. Balaur bondoc (Romanian for "stocky dragon") is huskier than its relative the Velociraptor.

IRA FLATOW, host:

Up next, Flora Lichtman, our digital media editor is here. Hi, Flora.

FLORA LICHTMAN: Hi, Ira.

FLATOW: You're welcome. You're here for our Video Pick of the Week.

LICHTMAN: Yes, I am. But I think we should start with some listener mail.

FLATOW: Some - well, hang on. We have a little technical problem hearing you. Can you hear Flora okay?

LICHTMAN: Can you hear me now?

FLATOW: Come on. Come on over here.

(Soundbite of laughter)

LICHTMAN: Or should we huddle around?

FLATOW: We'll huddle around the mic, just like we used to do in the old days. Come on over.

LICHTMAN: All right. That's - how about this?

FLATOW: That's fine.

LICHTMAN: Okay. So I think this week we should start with something a little bit different. How about some listener mail?

FLATOW: Hey, we don't do that often.

LICHTMAN: We don't do it often. And you know what? This is a good week for it because last week's segment on our emotional responses to bedbugs got some emotional responses. So let me read some excerpts.

FLATOW: Yeah. That was a - you, you know, we sort of painted them in a different light. So...

LICHTMAN: We painted them in a different light, and people had something to say about it. So here's one. This is the silliest SCIFRI I've ever heard. If you get bedbugs, you will know why you should be afraid, very afraid. Who in their right mind doesn't care if a bloodsucking bug feeds on them while their sleeping? Bedbugs are not a trifle.

Patty(ph) goes on to say, your psychologist and Ms. Lichtman have obviously not had a close encounter with bedbugs. My own experience included swollen arms that went numb because of the swelling and the welts that did indeed last weeks.

And finally, I wouldn't wish bedbugs upon my worst enemy, but I wish them upon the person behind this segment. I've never left an opinion on any of these message boards, but this segment struck a nerve.

FLATOW: Oh, that was very angry.

(Soundbite of laughter)

LICHTMAN: This was a little bit angry.

FLATOW: Did we have a good one at all? One positive...

LICHTMAN: Well, there was one positive one.

FLATOW: Right.

LICHTMAN: If we can't - I loved the video, if we can't make light of bedbugs, we really are going to suffer in years to come. And I think that the point is well taken, not the point about me getting bedbugs - that's not well taken. But their point that this is not an imaginary fear, you know, they really...

FLATOW: Right.

LICHTMAN: ...do something bad, is well taken. And also that it's one thing to be lying in bed and you see a speck of dust and you think it's a bedbug irrationally, and it's another to have a fear because you had a terrible experience.

FLATOW: Right.

LICHTMAN: And what's interesting is that our psychologist, Dr. Ochsner, said that actually, people, you know, they do these experiments with people who have post-traumatic stress disorder, from wars and stuff like that, and the point is the same. If you have an emotional response, they treat it sort of in the same way if you have a real fear or an - one that you'd sort of do - made up.

FLATOW: Mm-hmm. And our Video Pick of the Week?

LICHTMAN: This week, it's - we're going straightforward.

(Soundbite of laughter)

LICHTMAN: It's non-controversial. A new dinosaur was...

FLATOW: Oh, yeah. There's a new dinosaur. You went up to the American Museum of Natural History.

LICHTMAN: Yes. Some of the authors on this paper that just came out read the American Museum of Natural History. And so we saw some of the dinosaur's relatives, and you can see some of the dinosaur bones. It's a new predatory dinosaur from Europe in the late Cretaceous. And it's - I don't, I want to be politic about this. I want to be really careful, but its name, Balaur bondoc, means stocky dragon. So it's a little - it's...

FLATOW: We didn't name it.

LICHTMAN: It's big boned, and that's actually not a euphemism.

FLATOW: But the interesting part of this dinosaur has a certain claw that's different than the others?

LICHTMAN: Yeah. Unlike its closest relatives, the Velociraptor - and this group of dinosaurs are known for having a claw in their second toe. And this dino has double the weaponry. It has two claws, one on the first toe and on the second. So it's small - it's about the size of a Labrador, they say, but it's fearsome, scary.

FLATOW: Wow. So it's - it is - and you went up there and you got a good tour of it. And it's on - it's Flora - it's Video Pick of the Week, up on our website at sciencefriday.com. And you can see it, and it's kind of interesting.

LICHTMAN: Yeah, check it out.

FLATOW: It's interesting. It's got a whole history. It comes from Europe, which is a place we don't think a lot of, you know, all these - this era dinosaur existed.

LICHTMAN: It's - yeah. I didn't know this, but about 70 million years ago Europe was a set of islands. And so the interesting part about this study is that these islands sort of bred weird dinosaurs like this one. I mean, this is a top predator and it's pretty small. In North America at the time, this is when T-rex is roaming around. So you can get a sense of the contrast of the types of predators in these two ecosystems.

FLATOW: Thank you, Flora.

LICHTMAN: Thanks, Ira.

FLATOW: So if you want to see a really vicious-looking tiny little dinosaur the size of a Labrador retriever - what's the size - well, we have to come up with these sizes to measure, because there were reports that it was the size of a turkey, at one point. Now when you actually look at the size of the dinosaur, they said it was like, six or seven feet wide. Well, unless you're having like 50 people over for Thanksgiving.

LICHTMAN: A big turkey.

FLATOW: A big turkey - this is not going to be something that you can - able to, you know, it doesn't go well. But the interesting part is that this actually had this extra claw in it, and they were excited, the curator was pretty excited himself, wasn't he?

LICHTMAN: Yeah, it's a - I spoke with a couple of the scientists on this paper and they said it was a jaw dropper, that even for people in the field, this was, like, whoa, pretty weird.

FLATOW: All right. So it's our Video Pick of the Week. It's up at sciencefriday.com. You can see it up there on the left side. And all our other stuff also. You can go to our website. And if you missed our program today, you can download it as a podcast and also see the Video Pick of the Week and take it home on your iPhone app.

I'm Ira Flatow in New York.

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