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New Species Discovered! Latest Crop of Dinosaurs Include a Giant Chicken-Like Creature and Africa’s Last Dino

May 04, 2017 06:00 AM EDT
Chicken-like dinosaur
The strange dinosaur named Jianianhualong tengi resembles a giant chicken with teeth -- unlike modern birds.
(Photo : News/YouTube Screenshot)

It may be millions of years ago since dinosaurs roamed the Earth, but there are still plenty of surprises from way back then. Recently, scientists have unearthed two new dinosaur species from different corners of the world: a long-necked Tyrannosaurus rex from Africa and a giant chicken from China.

The last dinosaur standing

According to a report from New Scientist, a team of scientists just discovered the Chenanisaurus barbaricus, one of the last dinosaurs before their extinction 66 million years ago and a smaller version of the infamous Tyrannosaurus rex.

A rare fragment of a jaw bone was found in the mines of Sidi Chennane in the Ouled Abdoun Basin, Morocco, which an international group of scientists identified as part of an abelisaur.

"This find was unusual because it's a dinosaur from marine rocks - it's a bit like hunting for fossil whales and finding a fossil lion," University of Bath's Nick Longrich said. "It's also one of the last dinosaurs in Africa before the mass extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs."

The two-legged abelisaur is similar to T. rex and other tyrannosaurs, but featuring a shorter and blunter snout as well as very tiny arms and hands. The worn teeth from the fossils indicated that the Chenanisaurus was a predator, but it also has a smaller brain and a short, deep face compared to its T. rex cousin.

Even more fascinating to the scientists are the Chenanisaurus' scales compared to the partially-feathered T. rex, which showed how different the fauna was in separate hemispheres at the time.

The findings were published in the journal PeerJ.

Giant chicken with teeth

Meanwhile, in another part of the world, a vastly different dino was also found. This ancient new species of Chinese troodontid was dug up from Liaoning in China by a group of researchers from Hong Kong, China and Canada.

According to a report from Phys Org, the strange dinosaur named Jianianhualong tengi resembles a giant chicken with teeth -- unlike modern birds. A particularly defining trait is the presence of asymmetrical feathers, which have been suggested as a quality linked to the ability to fly. However, the dinosaur's flight wasn't proven.

The team analyzed the fossils and found that Jianianhualong was roughly three feet tall, and dated from 125 million years ago. They also classified it as part of a group called troodontids, which includes both modern and extinct birds. Because some parts of the newly discovered creature resemble later troodontids and others are similar to earlier ones, the scientists suggested that this new species is crossing the bridge of the evolution to flight.

The study was published in Nature Communications.

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