Paleontologists Say They've Discovered a Nightmarish New Dinosaur With 'Meat Hook' Claws
Paleontologists have announced some pretty cool new dinosaurs over the past year, including the rainbow-feathered Caihong juji, the turkey-sized Diluvicursor pickeringi (which was found caught in a prehistoric logjam), and the infamous "murder swan" Halszkaraptor escuilliei, which was initially suspected of being a fake due to its bizarre appearance. Now we can add the 30-foot-long megaraptorid Tratayenia rosalesi to the list—along with its horrifying 16-inch claws.
Tratayenia rosalesi was originally discovered in 2006 by Diego Rosales, of the National University of Combahue, but it wasn't until bones were excavated near a town named Tratayén in Argentina that paleontologists began to understand the full picture.
Excavations ended up collecting the dinosaur's hip vertebrae, back vertebrae, ribs, and pieces of the pelvis, which revealed that Tratayenia rosalesi's bones contained air pockets, similar to modern birds. The most striking feature of T. rosalesi, however, is its claws.
According to Matt Lamanna, of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History: "Megaraptorid claws are the stuff of nightmares-razor-sharp meat hooks more than a foot long. Wolverine from the X-Men has nothing on these guys."
According to the researchers, Tratayenia rosalesi was one of the last megaraptorids, as well as one of the largest of its era. It most likely roamed South America between 95 and 85 million years ago, capturing and subduing prey with its giant claws and then ripping them apart with serrated teeth.
Despite the vivid picture we have of T. rosalesi itself, it's still a mystery where it fits into the larger family tree of megaraptorids. T. rosalesi is a theropod, a group of bipedal dinosaurs that share similar characteristics like hollow bones, clawed toes and fingers, and recurved teeth, but it's still unknown how closely it's related to the other carnivores of the Southern Hemisphere.
Either way, Tratayenia rosalesi is No. 2 on our list of "Most Terrifying Things to Ever Roam the Jungles of South America," right behind the Carnotaurus.