Giant Dakotaraptor Dinosaur With Wing Feathers Discovered In South Dakota

First Posted: Nov 06, 2015 11:34 AM EST

Researchers have discovered one of the largest giant raptor fossils in South Dakota. It is one of the largest specimens to be found with wing feathers, according to a team of researchers from the University of Kansas.

"This new predatory dinosaur also fills the body size gap between smaller theropods and large tyrannosaurs that lived at this time," said David Burnham, co-author of the study and paleontologist, in a news release.

The researchers identified the fossil as Dakotaraptor, which is about 17 feet in length. It was found in the Hell Creek Formation area, one of the most extensively studied areas in North America, specifically because of its Upper Cretaceous and some lower Paleocene rocks, which hold a diverse variety of well preserved fossils.

The discovery reveals new evidence that flightlessness evolved several times in this lineage leading to modern birds, according to the researchers. The fossils showed signs of "quill knobs," which indicated that feathers were attached to the forearm of the dinosaur.

The study was led by Robert DePalma, who is a curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Palm Beach Museum of Natural History. DePalma led the team of researchers to South Dakota where the fossil was discovered.

"This Cretaceous period raptor would have been lightly built and probably just as agile as the vicious smaller theropods, such as the Velociraptor," said De Palma.

This study was published in Paleontological Contributions.

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