New Predatory Dinosaur Discovered in Romania

A stocky, two-clawed relative of Velociraptor and feathered dinosaurs has been discovered in Romania. Balaur bondoc,which means stocky dragon, is the first meat-eating dinosaur to be described that lived in Europe during the final 60 million years of the Age of Dinosaurs.
“Balaur might be one of the largest predators in this ecosystem because not even a big tooth has been found in Romania after over a hundred years of research,” paleontologist Zoltan Csiki of the University of Bucharest in Romania said in a press release. Csiki is the lead researcher of the discovery announced Aug. 30 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The new dinosaur was about 6 to 7 feet long. It had functional big toes with large claws — presumably for slashing prey — in addition to a claw on the second toe that is typical of the group of dinosaurs. Its feet and legs were short and stocky, with bones fused together, and large muscle attachment areas on its pelvis, indicating the dinosaur was built for strength over speed. Its hands were atrophied, so Balaur likely used its feet rather than its hands to grasp prey.
“Its anatomy shows that it probably hunted in a different way than its less stocky relatives,” said paleontologist Stephan Brusatte of Columbia University in a press release. “Compared to Velociraptor, Balaur was probably more of a kick boxer than a sprinter, and it might have been able to take down larger animals than itself, as many carnivores do today.”
During the era that Balaur lived, sea levels were so high that much of Europe was under water and Romania was an island. Dinosaurs evolved there in relative isolation, with the occasional exchange of creatures between there and mainland Asia, says Csiki. Some of the other dinosaurs that have been found there from this time are dwarf sauropods the size of cows and tiny duck-billed dinosaurs.
According to Csiki, fragmentary remains of Balaur were already known for more than 10 years, but the morphology was so bizarre that scientists didn’t know how to fit them together.
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