Planet Earth

Found: Real-Life Version of Sesame Street's Big Bird

If, that is, Wes Craven had designed the character...

By Boonsri DickinsonSep 10, 2007 12:00 AM

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In the Gobi Desert of northern China, Xing Xu of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology accidentally stumbled upon a gigantic one-and-a-half-ton dinosaur while filming a documentary about a previous find. Dubbed Gigantoraptor, the find has turned out to be the largest birdlike dinosaur ever found—at 17 feet tall, it would have been tall enough to look T. rex in the eye.

The behemoth is 35 times as large as other members of its group, which complicates our understanding of how birds evolved from dinosaurs, Xing says. The old theory held that as carnivorous dinosaurs developed into birdlike creatures, they became smaller—not larger, as in Gigantoraptor’s case. Xing still isn’t sure if Gigantoraptor had feathers. Nor does he know what it liked to eat. It had the sharp claws of a carnivore, like T. rex, and the long neck of an herbivore, like Apatosaurus. That opens up the menu to mollusks, seeds, and of course, dinosaur eggs.

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