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Scientists find fossil of deadly new dinosaur

A reconstruction of the skeletal anatomy of the dinosaur Balaur bondoc, which means “stocky dragon.’’ It is similar to the velociraptor, but has two sharp claws on each foot, not just one. A reconstruction of the skeletal anatomy of the dinosaur Balaur bondoc, which means “stocky dragon.’’ It is similar to the velociraptor, but has two sharp claws on each foot, not just one. (PNAS/ Associated Press)
Associated Press / August 31, 2010

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WASHINGTON — Romanian and American researchers have discovered a new type of dinosaur, which lived about 70 million years ago in what is now Romania.

The dinosaur is similar to the frightening velociraptor, but with two sharp claws on each foot instead of just one.

“Balaur bondoc,’’ which means “stocky dragon,’’ was discovered in Romania by geologist Matyas Vremir of the Transylvanian Museum Society. The find is reported in today’s edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

“Balaur might be one of the largest predators in this ecosystem,’’ explained coauthor Zoltan Csiki of the University of Bucharest, who noted that higher sea level at the time made the region an island archipelago.

Csiki said that although Balaur is extremely unusual, it is closely related to animals like velociraptor.

The researchers said the fossils show an animal 6 to 7 feet long, with a stockier build than similarly sized velociraptors that lived elsewhere. There are numerous similarities between the two predators, though.

“While we would expect that there were carnivorous animals in these faunas, finding one as unusual as Balaur is thrilling,’’ said coauthor Mark Norell of the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

The new Balaur fossil is a partial skeleton that includes leg, hip, backbone, arm, hand, rib, and tail bones.

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