Researchers made quite a find this week in Utah: a new species of raptor dinosaur. The ancient creature, a meat-eater, was small and fast, with talon-like toes.
"These animals were incredibly fast, incredibly intelligent and some of them wielded very significant claws and sharp teeth," Dr. Lindsay Zanno of the New University of Wisconsin tells NPR's Scott Simon. Zanno led the dig team that made the discovery.
Zanno named the species Talos Sampsoni after her friend and colleague, Dr. Scott Sampson, also known as "Dr. Scott" on the television series, Dinosaur Train. Talos Sampsoni was feathered and about 5-feet long and about 2-and-a-half feet at the hips, Zanno says. "Definitely an overgrown vicious Labrador retriever-sized animal," she says.
Michael Knell, a graduate student at Montana State University, actually made the discovery. Knell had been hunting the Badlands in Southern Utah for fossilized turtles. "He turned the corner and found one of the most amazing raptor-dinosaur specimens we have from the late Cretaceous in North America," Zanno says.