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New dinosaur looks like odd mix of duck, croc, ostrich, swan

Dec. 6, 2017 at 11:05 p.m.

The Halszkaraptor escuilliei dinosaur was about 18 inches tall, had a bill like a duck but teeth like a croc's, a swan-like neck and killer claws.

WASHINGTON (AP) — With a bill like a duck but teeth like a croc's, a swanlike neck and killer claws, a new dinosaur species uncovered by scientists looks like something Dr. Seuss could have dreamed up.

It also had flippers like a penguin, and while it walked like an ostrich it could also swim. That's the first time swimming ability has been shown for a two-legged, meat-eating dinosaur.

The tiny creature, only about 18 inches tall, roamed 75 million years ago in what is now Mongolia. Its full curled-up skeleton was found in a sandstone rock.

"It's such a peculiar animal," said Dennis Voeten, a paleontology researcher at Palacky University in the Czech Republic. "It combines different parts we knew from other groups into this one small animal."

In a study released Wednesday by the journal Nature, Voeten and coauthors named it Halszkaraptor escuilliei or "Halszka" after the late Polish paleontologist Halszka Osmolska.

Paleontologist Kristi Curry Rogers of Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, who didn't participate in the study, called it "a pretty crazy chimera: a swan neck and dinosaur body, but with a mouthful of tiny teeth and hands and feet that look like they might be good for swimming."

Its mashup body let it run and hunt on the ground and fish in fresh water, said study co-author Paul Tafforeau. He's a paleontologist at the European Synchrotron in Grenoble, France, a powerful X-ray generator where numerous tests were made on the fossil.

The Synchrotron created three-dimensional images of the fossil, which showed the creature was indeed a single animal and not a concoction built up from several sources.

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