According to NBC News on March 19, Anzu Wyliei “lived around 66 million years ago in the Dakotas,” and “could be considered a mashup on several levels. It had the crested head and toothless beak that would typically be associated with a modern-day flightless bird known as the cassowary, and it probably sported feathers as well. But it also had the sharp claws and robust tail of a dinosaur.”
Scientists say sharp claws on the “chicken” dinosaur could counter potential predators like the king of all beasts at the time – Tyrannosaurus rex.
“We jokingly call this thing the 'Chicken From Hell,' and I think that's pretty appropriate,” said paleontologist Matthew Lamanna at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh.
The name of the new dinosaur is itself a fusion of a few different things. “Anzu,” from Sumerian mythology, is a lion-headed eagle (similar to the griffin) and the son of the bird goddess Siris. “Wylie,” on the other hand, is the name of the Pittsburgh museum trustee's dinosaur-loving grandson.
Anzu Wyliei’s bones are being housed at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Hans-Dieter Sues, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, says Anzu Wyliei gives a more complete picture of the dinosaur group oviraptorosaurs – meaning “egg thief lizards” – a group of feathered dinosaurs from the Cretaceous Period.
Based on the skull and jaw, scientists think Anzu was an omnivore, eating both meat and eggs as well as plants.
“For almost a hundred years, the presence of oviraptorosaurs in North America was only known from a few bits of skeleton, and the details of their appearance and biology remained a mystery,” Sues said. “With the discovery of A. wyliei, we finally have the fossil evidence to show what this species looked like and how it is related to other dinosaurs.”
Matt Lamanna, an assistant curator at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, told CNN that the dinosaur probably weighed about 600 pounds and looked like a cross between an ostrich and a velociraptor.