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Attack of the Giant Prehistoric Chicken!


“We have a gigantic chicken!”

This is about the funnest thing I’ve seen all week.

We all know that birds evolved from dinosaurs, right? But until now, the fossil record that we had showed that the creatures got smaller and smaller as they evolved away from being dinosaurs and into being birds.

Not this baby. This baby is more than 26 feet long and 16-1/2 feet tall, and is estimated to have weighed at least a ton and half. And it was a young adult — so it wasn’t even the biggest one of its species.

And it’s a bird.

(Well, okay, a “bird-like species.”)

My favorite quote is from the paleontologist who discovered it, Xu Xing: “When I went back to my geologist colleague Lin Tan’s lab to check the skeleton, I was shocked. I said to Tan, ‘It is not a sauropod, it is not a tyrannosaurus, it is a tyrannosaurus-sized oviraptor. We have a gigantic chicken!’”

This makes me happier than I can put into words.

(Via SFGate and Pharyngula. SFGate has a couple more pictures. The one above is the most scientific, but I personally like this artist’s conception the best. It somehow manages to make the thing look both ferocious and campy.)



  1. Rebecca says

    Talk about Super Chicken! “When you find yourself in danger; when you’re threatened by a stranger; when it looks like you might take a lickin’…Buck buck buck buck-aahh!”
    What could that thing have sounded like?
    The whole thing makes me happy too, which makes me wonder: Why?
    Why does it make us happy when some nerd out in the desert finds evidence of a new dinosaur or prehistoric animal? Some of it is that this creature is one of the goofiest-looking beasts ever to peck and claw. But I even grin when someone finds a fossilized imprint of some micro-organism from millions of years earlier. Why?

  2. Nurse Ingrid says

    I’m right there with you, Rebecca. I love this stuff. I was also all over the recent discovery of a piece of amber that contained a 100 million year old mushroom, and that within the mushroom was a rare old parasite, and within the parasite was another rare old parasite. That was way cool. And I’m not just saying that because the amateur fossil collector who discovered it also happens to be a registered nurse…
    And I think the giant chicken needs to be on Cute Overload!

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