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11.34 7 Dec 2017


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Scientists have revealed details of a duck-like dinosaur related to Velociraptor.

It comes after paleontologists had the opportunity to examine a fossil that was discovered in Mongolia.

Halszkaraptor escuilliei - informally referred to as 'Halszka' - is believed to have lived 75 million years ago.

National Geographic reports that the region that is now Mongolia at that time featured "nourishing lakes and rivers that coursed through an arid, sandy landscape" - similar to the Egyptian Nile area today.

Halszka was around the size of the chicken, and could both move easily on ground while also being able to move through water. It had a long neck similar to a swan, penguin-like flippers, and teeth similar to a crocodile.

A detailed analysis of the fossil has been published in the latest issue of the Nature journal.

Andrea Cau of the University of Bologna explained: "Halszka is so bizarre and unexpected that the first time I examined it I wondered if it was a fake.

"The first impression, in fact, is that it is a chimera, built by mixing different parts of dinosaurs."

He added: "We also discovered that Halszkaraptor was not alone: at least two other species of Mongolian dinosaurs - discovered in the past but had remained enigmatic until now - are related to Halszka."

The fossil itself had spent some time on the 'black market' and in private collections.

However, it was finally secured for scientific analysis back in 2015.

The fossil is now set to be returned to Mongolia, where it will be given to a public scientific institute.


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