The relatively small creature only measures about 18 inches tall and is said to be kind of like a duck, but with crocodilian teeth, massive claws, and swan-like neck. Oh, and it also had flippers like a penguin, so it could swim, but it walked like an ostrich.
The dino-duck (that’s a term I made up), is about 75 million years old and hails from what is now Mongolia. Paleontology researches have named it the Halszkaraptor escuilliei (HAHL-shka-rap-tor ES-key-lay-ee) or “Halszka” for short, after the late Polish paleontologist Halszka Osmolska. I like dino-duck better, though.
Halszka’s full skeleton was found curled-up in a sandstone rock.
The finding was described in a study released Wednesday by the journal Nature, by Andrea Cau, a paleontologist at the Geological Museum Capellini, and co-authors. One of them, a paleontologist at the ESRF, Paul Tafforeau, explains that the creatures’ unique body type allowed it to hunt on land and fish in freshwater.
The ESRF, known as the European Synchotron, is a powerful X-ray generator, which was used to confirm that the fossil was indeed one animal, and not some weird old taxidermist’s science project.
Cau, who was the lead author in the study, admits he's skeptical as to whether the fossil was real at first. To make matters even more mysterious, the rock housing the skeleton belonged to a private collector and had been smuggled out of Mongolia.