Meet Dineobellator from New Mexico

A new species of dromaeosaurid – a family of generally small to medium-sized feathered carnivores that lived during the Cretaceous Period – has been discovered in the US.

Reconstruction of Dineobellator notohesperus standing over a nest. Credit: Mary P Williams / Steven Jasinksi

A team led by Steven Jasinski from the State Museum of Pennsylvania discovered 20 identifiable skeletal elements in deposits of the Ojo Alamo Formation in the San Juan Basin in New Mexico.

They named the new dinosaur Dineobellator notohesperus, from the Navajo word Diné (Navajo people) and the Latin word bellator (warrior).

Writing in the journal Scientific Reports, the authors report a number of unique features, including vertebrae near the base of the dinosaur’s tail that curved inwards, which could have increased its agility and improved its predation success. 

A gouge mark on the fossil’s large sickle-shaped claw may have been inflicted during an altercation with another Dineobellator or other theropod such as Tyrannosaurus rex, they speculate.

The findings, which contribute to the sparse fossil record of dromaeosaurids, indicate that this family was still diversifying at the end of the Cretaceous period prior to the mass extinction that wiped out non-avian dinosaurs 65.5 million years ago.

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