The dinosaur ‘chicken from hell’

YOU BIG CHICKEN  With its feathered and clawed arms and a head crest, the newly discovered dinosaur Anzu wyliei may have looked like a reptilian version of a 3.5-meter-long chicken, as in this artist’s illustration.

Courtesy of Bob Walters, Kor7ez/iStockPhoto

A supersized chickenlike reptile with large, sharp claws and a toothless beak is the latest creature to earn the distinction of being called a dinosaur.

The creature is named Anzu wyliei, its genus named after a birdlike demon in Mesopotamian mythology, and the researchers describing the dinosaur jokingly refer to it as a “chicken from hell.” It is the second-largest birdlike, feathered dinosaur behind Gigantoraptor and the largest found in North America. The species probably roamed what are now the Dakotas 66 million to 68 million years ago with Tyrannosaurus rex and Triceratops.

A. wyliei was identified from three fossil finds that, when combined, make a nearly complete skeleton. Based on calculations from the skeleton, the birdlike reptile would have been bigger than the biggest ostrich, measuring 3.5 meters long and weighing 200 to 300 kilograms, scientists report March 19 in PLOS ONE.

A reconstruction of Anzu wyliei’s skull shows its large toothless beak and round, birdlike brain case. Donald E. Hurlbert/Smithsonian

Ashley Yeager is the associate news editor at Science News. She has worked at The Scientist, the Simons Foundation, Duke University and the W.M. Keck Observatory, and was the web producer for Science News from 2013 to 2015. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a master’s degree in science writing from MIT.

More Stories from Science News on Paleontology