An international team of researchers have discovered a new species of dinosaur thanks to a fossil dating from 71 to 75 million years ago, discovered a few years ago in Mongolia, announced Wednesday the Royal Institute of Natural Sciences of Belgium (RBINS).
Their research, published in the scientific journal Nature, shows that dinosaurs could swim while they were always considered terrestrial animals.
The new dinosaur species, named “Halszkaraptor” in honor of Polish paleontologist Halszka Osmólska, moved both on land and in water. “For the first time, we can say that some (dinosaurs) could swim,” said Pascal Godefroit, paleontologist at the RBINS, quoted in the statement.
Halszkaraptor is a theropod, a carnivorous bipedal dinosaur, the dominant predator 160 million years ago. This semi-aquatic raptor, closely linked to the veloricaptor that has become famous since the Jurassic Park movies, measured 80 centimeters. It was able to move inth water thanks to the movements of itsl front legs. “Its long swan neck and elongated teeth allowed it to catch fish underwater,” says the Museum of Natural Science.
The fossil was exported illegally
According to Koen Stein of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, one of the authors of the study, the discovery is “remarkable. (…) It shows once again how dinosaurs were diversified and we still have many surprises “.
The fossil that made this discovery is 71 to 75 million years old. It was unveiled in Mongolia at Ukhaa Tolgod, a well-known site of paleontologists and fossil thieves.
“The fossil was exported illegally (…) and circulated for ten years in private collections,” says Godefroit. It finally landed in the hands of a French collector who contacted the Belgian paleontologist and offered it to the RBINS.