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Giant raptor dinosaur had legs taller than you

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Giant raptor dinosaur had legs taller than you

The six-foot-tall raptors in the Jurassic Park movies were terrifying enough, but now scientists have described a giant new raptor species whose legs alone were that tall.

Raptors were a diverse group of dinosaurs that more or less looked like the movie monsters, scaled up or down. They had that same basic body shape, a barrely snout full of teeth you wouldn’t want to mess with, and long, slender bird-like legs that ended with that iconic, curved claw on one toe. But ironically, they were probably showier than their Hollywood depictions – it’s believed that most, if not all, raptor species were covered in feathers.

Now, scientists have discovered a previously unknown species of raptor, and it was one of the biggest. They’ve named the species Fujianipus yingliangi, after the Fujian province of China where it was found. This new dinosaur is estimated to have measured 5 m (16.4 ft) long and stood 1.8 m (6 ft) tall at the hip, so of course it was even taller than that. Basically, picture Big Bird armed with a scythed foot and a vicious disposition, and you’re probably not far off.

That of course means Fujianipus would have towered over most humans (except maybe Shaq) and Jurassic Park’s Velociraptors. It’s worth pointing out too that even those are exaggerated movie monsters – real-life velociraptors, about the size of turkeys, would have been barely ankle-biters to it. If only Fujianipus had been known back then, it could have played the movie role with less fictionalizing.

The first hint of the giant predator came in 2020, when an international team of scientists discovered a complex series of fossilized dinosaur tracks in China, containing over 240 footprints from several different dinosaurs. That included a cavalcade of classic dinosaur groups – huge, long-necked sauropods, herbivorous ornithopods, and the two-legged, carnivorous theropods.

Among them, a set of two-toed tracks caught the researchers’ eye as belonging to raptors. Why only two toes? As you might remember from the movies, the third is where they keep that deadly curved claw, raised off the ground to keep it sharp and ready for any disembowelings it may need to do.

One of the huge footprints discovered in China that revealed the new giant species of raptor dinosaur

Lida Xing et al

Anyway, these tracks were way bigger than most known raptor tracks – they measured around 36 cm (14 in) long, more than three times the size of similar tracks from similar, known species. From that, the team was able to estimate the huge size of the creature that left them.

Since these tracks didn’t match any known dinosaur, the researchers proposed the new species Fujianipus yingliangi. Technically that makes it an “ichnospecies,” one that isn’t described from bodily remains like bones but other evidence like footprints. Hopefully, some bones might turn up in future so we can better understand these creatures – and get them ready for the starring role they deserve in the next movie.

The research was published in the journal iScience – Cell Press.

Source: University of Queensland



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