Giant “Chicken From Hell” is New Dinosaur Species

By Gemma Tarlach | March 19, 2014 4:00 pm
Anzu wyliei dinosaur

The big, bad, beaked stuff of nightmares, new dinosaur Anzu wyliei is described as “hell’s chicken” by the researchers who found it. Credit: Mark A. Klingler, Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

Researchers announcing a newly described dinosaur called it the “chicken from hell,” “hell’s chicken” and “scary as well as absurd.”

More prosaically known as Anzu wyliei, the beaked dinosaur stood about ten feet tall and more than 11 feet long with a tall crest on its head and sharp claws. A. wyliei lived about 66 million years ago in what’s now North and South Dakota, possibly sharing the same habitat as the iconic Tyrannosaurus rex and Triceratops species. Researchers announced the new species this week.

Feathers and Claws

Despite its vicious-looking claws, A. wyliei likely ate vegetation, small animals and possibly the eggs of other species. It lived on a floodplain and, while flightless, had a bird-like appearance with slender legs and a toothless jaw. Although no fossilized evidence of feathers were found, based on its relationship with other feathered species, researchers believe the animal had feathers on its tail and arms.

The big, bad, beaked stuff of nightmares, new dinosaur Anzu wyliei is described as "hell's chicken" by the researchers who found it. Illustration courtesy of Bob Walters.

Illustration courtesy of Bob Walters.

Researchers estimate Anzu wyliei weighed perhaps 450-650 pounds, making it among the largest known oviraptorosaurs.

Oviraptorosaurs are feathered dinosaurs that belonged to the larger maniraptor group, from which modern birds evolved.

Family Matters

Aside from getting to put the phrase “chicken from hell” in a press release, researchers who described the new dinosaur today in the open-access journal PLoS One have good reason to be excited about the find. Their analysis is based on partial remains of three separate individuals found in the Hell’s Creek formation; together, the fossils form an almost complete A. wyliei skeleton. That’s important because the dinosaur belongs to the Caenagnathidae family, a mysterious offshoot of the oviraptorosauria subgroup previously known only from a handful of fragmentary bones.

Having a nearly-complete example of a Caenaghathid not only fills in a blank in the fossil record, it’s also rewriting the oviraptor family tree.

Already A. wyliei‘s remains have settled a debate about the relationship between different oviraptors species: “hell’s chicken” has shown North American oviraptors are much more closely related to each other than to similar species in Asia. At the same time, researchers believe an Asian oviraptor, the 26-foot-long Gigantoraptor, should be reclassified as a Caenaghathid based on similarities its shares with A. wyliei.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: dinosaurs, paleontology
  • P G

    Well, we know why this became extinct. It tastes like chicken!

    • rwbill

      but smelled like fish.

      • makayli verran

        my Aunty Grace got a nearly new blue Kia by working part
        time from the internet. look at this now C­a­s­h­D­u­t­i­e­s­.­ℂ­o­m

  • Collin E. Blair

    ok, so compare this to Gigantoraptor. they both look alike. they both have crests, arm feathers, skinny fingers, tail feathers, and beak. i personally classify this as a raptor.

  • Michael Keener

    Postulate, theorize, estimate, guess, believe, and just makeup crap about animals that lived 66 million years ago, which is also a guess!
    Can we not use the funds that this meaningless research takes up, for more useful, appropriate issues; such as, homelessness, stem cell-organ growth research, hunger-starving children, curing cancer, and not least, climate change…. I wish these ‘creatures could come alive and eat the idiots who uncover them. What a colossal waste of time, energy and money….

    • bwana

      How about cutting the ridiculous amount of money the US military spends by 90%. Then we’d all have enough funds for your pet projects and mine… with $$$’s left over for health care!

    • Myles

      U r outrageous we wld not know anything about any of those subjects if it wasn’t for the people who feel passionate about doing the research and the countless hours they have seen tick away, and yet u wish to critize these scientist and tell them there work…”life” is a waste! How religiously pathetic can u be?? If those fields peek your interest y don’t u throw all ur money and living hours at them!

    • Andrew Befus

      Dinosaur research is way, way, WAY more important than everything you listed.

  • jongnagy

    Houston, we have a problem…

    On December 9, 2010 NY Times science writer Nicolas
    Wade wrote: “Anthropologists have been thrown into turmoil about the nature and future of their profession after a decision by the American Anthropological Association at its recent annual meeting to strip the word ‘science’ from a statement of its long-range plan.”

    John P. A. Ioannidis abstract “Why Most
    Published Research Findings Are False” stirred a ton of revelations about research.

    He stated in the Public Library of Science (PLOS)
    that “There is increasing concern that most current published research findings are false…” and he includes as one of the factors why this is so “…when there is greater financial and other interest and prejudice…”

    His full article led to a slew of research scandals.
    These biases may very well be based on what you are looking to prove to begin with.

    Some other of the many articles (almost weekly) on
    the subject are listed below:

    “Noted Researcher Retracts Finding on AIDS
    Immunity” by Marilyn Chase”Can You Believe What Scientists
    Publish?” by Jacob Goldstein,

    “Medical Research Has an Obviousness
    Problem” by Joe Queenan,

    “Most Science Studies Appear to Be Tainted By
    Sloppy Analysis” by Robert Lee Hotz.

    • donl

      He was a ‘Creationist’ I suspect!

  • Don’t Even Try It!

    Who the f**k cares about a 66 million year old dead chicken? Do something useful with all our tax money! Quit wasting OUR money on this stupid sh!t.

    • donl

      Yeah! I agree ..we should get rid of all history,,what the hell do we care about the war for independence or our civil war or any one elses!?? and the Pharoahs and pyramids who the hell cares!!..history is for idiots…and we surely have no shortage of we!!

      • DodgeMiniVan

        If wse don’t pay attention to past history, mankind is doomed to repeat it.

        • donl

          I don’t know about you but I was being facetious to (Don’t even try it) w/ my comment..I taught college level World History off and on for over 30 years! should have addresserd your comment to DETI.

          • DodgeMiniVan

            Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa. I did not teach college level, I taught 37 years in a Jr. High School 7,8,9th grades.

          • donl

            Teaching those grades was probably more of a’ve got kids who think like DETI, mine wanted to be in that class..My main subject was History of The Fine Arts and Fine Arts itself..all told about 40 years..cancer retired me earlier than desired..nice to hear from a colleaque…best of luck…don

          • DodgeMiniVan

            My subject matter was Industrial Arts, main area was Graphic Arts also Dept. Head.

          • donl

            My wife or as we say life partner..we never made it official ,anyway Hel’n was or still is a Graphic artist,..these days w/ all the outsourcing and changes that have gone on..not to forget she took care of me all during my worst episodes..which leaves her ,not doing what she loved..

        • Marc Humph

          but we do pay attention and still repeat it

    • donl

      Actually you’re at the wrong address you need to get on over to Clash Daily..they speak part of your language..all except the part about using tax dollars to help someone !!

    • bwana

      You jest of course! No one can be that shortsighted!?

      • donl

        yeah! they can! you’d be amazed ..go over to “clash daily” you’d be amazed

  • JohnBoy

    Do chickens stop growing at any time, or do they continue to grow until they die, like reptiles? If the latter, A.wyliei could just be a chicken that lived for several hundred years.


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