March 19th

2014 – Anzu Named

On this day in dinosaurs, North America’s largest oviraptorid was named. Anzu, whose moniker is derived from the Sumerian feathered demon, was around 5 feet tall and 10 feet long.

Wikimedia Commons

Jokingly described as the “chicken from hell” because its remains were found in the Hell Creek Formation in the Dakotas, Anzu seems to have been a generalist–an herbivore, or perhaps, an omnivore. Even though its beak as not as robust as its relations, it was probably formidable enough to tackle a range of vegetation, along with small animals and, possibly, eggs. One of its most distinctive features is its large head crest–larger than those of its cousins. Resembling today’s cassowary, Anzu most likely used this crest for display.

The fossil bones of several individuals of the species were found in mudstone, suggesting that Anzu lived on ancient floodplains. Its enchanting skeleton stands in the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh.

Share your favorite feathered oviraptor photos with us–including snaps with Anzu–on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #TDIDinos.

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