A Moment of Science

Dinosaur Turkey!

It would take a lot of stuffing to fill this Jurassic turkey.

illustration of Hagryphus

Photo: Boing Boing

More than anything else, paleontologists say, Hagryphus resembled a giant, seven-foot tall turkey!

The Birdlike God of the Desert! An impressive title huh?

“Birdlike God of the Desert” is the translation of Hagryphus giganteus. That’s the Latin name for a fossil discovered in Utah. This fossil is of a new type of dinosaur, that lived about 75 million years ago. Hagryphus had a toothless beak, claws for grabbing and shredding both animals and plants, and powerful back legs that allowed it to run at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour. More than anything else, paleontologists say, Hagryphus resembled a giant, seven-foot tall turkey!

The fossil shows evidence of feathers on its back end, hence the giant turkey comparison.

The cool thing about Hagryphus is the feathers were not used in flight. What their purpose was is unclear, but this running turkey never took off. That finding adds credence to the hypothesis that modern birds evolved out of dinosaurs. Feathers, the Hagryphus find suggests, first evolved as adaptations suiting some other purpose, perhaps thermoregulation, and only later became useful adaptations for flight.

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