This artist's rendering puts feathers and flesh on the fossil bones of a massive birdlike dinosaur recently unearthed in the Gobi desert in northern China.
The newly discovered dino, Gigantoraptor erlianensis
—shown looming over much smaller dinosaurs—probably represents the largest feathered animal ever known, Chinese paleontologists say.
The beaked creature weighed about 1.5 tons and is the biggest toothless dinosaur found to date, according to a team led by Xing Xu from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing.
The dinosaur, described in this week's issue of the journal Nature
, lived some 70 million years ago.
Despite its fearsome appearance and 8-inch (20-centimeter) claws, Gigantoraptor
wasn't necessarily a meat-chasing predator. Experts suggest mollusks, seeds, and dinosaur eggs as possible alternatives for its menu.
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Image courtesy Zhao Chuang and Xing Lida/IVPP/Nature