While some may believe that Tyrannosaurus Rex wasking of the dinosaurs about 66 million years ago, a new raptor species discovered recently could possibly have given him a run for his money. The new raptor species has been dubbed Dakotaraptor, and it would have been one of the area’s deadliest predators.

The fossil was found in the Hell Creek Formation area that covers sections of northwestern South Dakota, southwestern North Dakota, and eastern sections of Montana and Wyoming. Researchers found leg bones, pieces of wing bones, vertebrae from the tail, and the animal’s wishbone in a remote part of the badlands in 2005, and have been studying them ever since.

Raptor bones are hard to find because they are hollow and lightweight like birds’ bones and are thereby hard to transport.

Features of Dakotaraptor: a new species of raptor dinosaur

Dakotaraptor would have been a scary sight. While most of the raptor bones found in the past were smaller, this new species of raptor stood 6-feet tall at the hips, and 17-feet tall in all, and could likely sprint towards its prey at speeds up to 40 mph.

It had strong muscles, wings and feathers (although it couldn’t fly) and a wickedly sharp claw on its feet that got up to 9½-inches long, according to Robert DePalma, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Palm Beach Museum of Natural History. These features made it one of the best killing machines of its time.

It lived at the same time as T. Rex, the duck-billed Edmontosaurus and Triceratops.

Dakotaraptor similar to Utahraptor found in 90s

The Dakotaraptor is bigger than other raptor species found in the area, and is in fact, nearly as large as the earlier raptor species, the Utahraptor, which was discovered in Utah in the 1990s, reached lengths of over 17 feet, but lived during a different time.

The Utahraptor, which reached 23 feet in length, had thicker legs and bones and likely couldn’t run as fast as the Dakotaraptor, likely being more of an ambush-type predator. The biggest News is that Dakotaraptor is the first raptor found with proof that it had feathers and wings.

While the Dakotaraptor couldn’t fly, it did have wings and feathers, which was proven by the quill knobs, otherwise known as papilli, on the fossil’s arm bones.

Scientists speculate the Dakotaraptor could have used its wings to protect the young, intimidate other meat eaters, or perhaps that it evolved from some kind of dinosaur that could fly.

Scientists feel lucky to have found the species because large skeletons are hard to find. Most bones are dragged away by scavengers before they are buried. Research on the Dakotaraptor will continue, as well as the search for the new raptor species’ skull, which has yet to be found.

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