This Dinosaur Fossil Was So Bizarre, Scientists Thought It Was Fake

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By Laura Geggel

An enigmatic dinosaur — which sported a swan-like neck, amphibious flippers and Velociraptor-esque claws — could walk like a duck and swim like a penguin during its heyday on Earth, scientists have found after examining its fossilized remains.

In fact, the remains, which were on the black market for years, painted such a wacky image of a dinosaur that paleontologists thought it was a sophisticated fake at first.

Its discovery reveals that the bird-like dinosaur was likely semiaquatic and felt right at home in the water, the researchers said. This is surprising because the newfound species is a theropod — a group of bipedal, mostly meat-eating dinosaurs that includes Tyrannosaurus rex — and it’s thought that most theropods didn’t spend much time in the water, the researchers said. (The major exception being Spinosaurus. Also, T. rex could likely swim, fossilized underwater footprints show.)

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1 COMMENT

  1. This Dinosaur Fossil Was So Bizarre, Scientists Thought It Was Fake

    Incredulity about fossil evidence has certainly been widespread.
    Even captured animal samples, have been challenged as fakes – as in the case of the first platypus!

    The creationists favourite is the eye, . . . . and we have just found another one!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-42264946

    An “exceptional” 530-million-year-old fossil contains what could be the oldest eye ever discovered, according to scientists.

    The remains of the extinct sea creature include an early form of the eye seen in many of today’s animals, including crabs, bees and dragonflies.

    Scientists made the find while looking at the well-preserved trilobite fossil.

    These ancestors of spiders and crabs lived in seas during the Palaeozoic era, between 541-251 million years ago.

    They found the ancient creature had a primitive form of compound eye, an optical organ that consists of arrays of tiny visual cells, called ommatidia, similar to those of present-day bees.

    The team, which included a researcher from Edinburgh University, said their findings suggested that compound eyes had changed little over 500 million years.

    Prof Euan Clarkson, of Edinburgh University’s school of geosciences, said: “This exceptional fossil shows us how early animals saw the world around them hundreds of millions of years ago.

    “Remarkably, it also reveals that the structure and function of compound eyes has barely changed in half a billion years.”

    The right eye of the fossil, which was unearthed in Estonia, was partly worn away, giving researchers a clear view inside the organ.

    This revealed details of the eye’s structure and function, and how it differs from modern compound eyes.

    The species had poor vision compared with many animals today but it could identify predators and obstacles in its path, researchers believe.

    Its eye consists of approximately 100 ommatidia, which are situated relatively far apart compared to contemporary compounds eyes, the team have found.

    Unlike modern compound eyes, the fossil’s eye does not have a lens.

    The team believe this is likely to be because the primitive species, called Schmidtiellus reetae, lacked parts of the shell needed for lens formation.

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