Fossilized Remains Of Bird-Like Dinosaur That Died While Struggling To Free Itself Found

First Posted: Nov 11, 2016 04:00 AM EST

A farmer and construction workers in China have found the fossilized remains of a bird-like dinosaur that appears to have died while putting up a mighty struggle to free itself from the mud.

Despite being a little late to investigate the circumstances leading up to the death -- by 66 million years to be precise -- of the bird-like dinosaur, researchers have found evidence that the beast probably got mired in the mud during a disastrous flood.

The donkey-sized dinosaur with feathers, a beak, a bony crest atop its head and skinny legs belongs to a previously unknown species. The new discovery, according to experts, complements the widely held suggestion that small and medium size bird-like dinosaurs were thriving pretty much all across the globe before being almost wiped out from existence by the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) extinction event, according to BBC.

"If you saw it alive you would just think it was a weird bird," said Stephen Brusatte, a paleontologist at the University of Edinburgh who, together with his colleagues in China, co-authored the study published in the journal Scientific Reports, as per the post on Nature.

The newly discovered bird in China, however, died prematurely. According to the researchers studying the remains, the beast might have fallen into a ditch or tripped into boggy grounds as it tried escaping from incoming flood water. They are calling it Tongtianlong, roughly meaning "dragon reaching out to the sky."

Perhaps we will never know how long the struggle lasted. But judging by the animal's dying posture, it is evident that Tongtianlong fought right till the end.

"[A construction site] dynamite did destroy a little bit of the back end of the fossil, but luckily, it was far enough away from most of the fossil," Brusatte said in a statement to the Live Science.

The researchers further warned that many fossil sites in southern China have been constantly under threat due to all the construction work in the region.

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