Natovenator polydontus

Natovenator polydontus


  • The expansive dinosaur group that included big predators such as T. rex also was populated by a number of oddballs, weirdos and outcasts.

  • A newly described dinosaur from Mongolia – the size of a goose and looking a bit like one, too – fits that description.

About Natovenator polydontus

  • The dinosaur, called Natovenator polydontus, lived about 72 million years ago during the Cretaceous Period and was built like a diving bird with a streamlined body while possessing a goose-like elongated neck and a long flattened snout with a mouth bearing more than 100 small teeth.

    Natovenator polydontus
    Photo Credit: Species new to science
  • Natovenator has many peculiar characteristics.
  • While it was a cousin of speedy little predator Velociraptor, Natovenator was adapted to a semi-aquatic lifestyle in a freshwater ecosystem, perhaps floating on rivers and lakes, paddling with its front limbs, and using its flexible neck to catch fish and insects or diving underwater to capture its prey.
  • Its well-preserved remains – a skeleton about 70% complete – were unearthed in the Gobi Desert, which over the decades has been a treasure trove for dinosaur fossils.
  • Natovenator is part of the dinosaur group called theropods – sharing traits including bipedalism – best known for large meat-eaters including Tyrannosaurus, Tarbosaurus and Giganotosaurus.
    • But the theropods, many of which were feathered, branched out in unusual directions with examples such as long-clawed ground sloth-like Therizinosaurus, ostrich-like Struthiomimus, termite-eating Mononykus and the entire bird lineage.
  • Not many of the dinosaurs called “non-avian” – in other words, not the birds – are known to have lived a semi-aquatic lifestyle.
  • A close relative of Natovenator named Halszkaraptor, described in 2017, lived a similar lifestyle at roughly the same time in the same region. Both had a very bird-like appearance and were closely related to the bird lineage.
  • Natovenator – which means ‘swimming thief’ – is an amazing little animal for several reasons. First it is small and delicate. When we found it, we were uncertain as to its identification because it looked more like a lizard or mammal skeleton than a dinosaur.
  • There were various diving birds during the Cretaceous, including North America’s Hesperornis, which reached about 6 feet (1.8 meters) long, but none are known from the area Natovenator inhabited.

Source: IE

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