Saturday, June 11, 2011
Awesome new dromaeosaur was discovered recently from late Cretaceous Romania and described in September's online preprinting of PNAS. Here's an article.
The weirdest thing about Balaur bondoc is that it had double sickle claws on each foot, with the additional claw being the hallux that evolution had modified into a retractable enlarged claw. It also had a reduced and nonfunctional third manual digit, unlike all other known dromaeosaurs. More recent speculation on the animal indicates that the extended first digit is not actually a "second sickle claw" as the media purported, but rather an enlarged weight-bearing digit, perhaps because Balaur may have been "chunkier" than the average dromaeosaur.
Here's the Wikipedia article for anyone interested.
Photoshop CS4, September 2010.