A bipedal dinosaur with knives for fingers roamed around the shores of Asia between 66 million and 145 million years ago, a new study has revealed.
According to Live Science, the new genus and species of the dinosaur that lived during the Cretaceous period was identified from the fossilised remains unearthed on Hokkaido, the northern island of Japan. The fossil is the first to be found in Asia in marine sediments, researchers from the United States and Japan informed.
A new species of therizinosaurid has been identified from fossilized claws unearthed in Hokkaido, Japan: Paralitherizinosaurus japonicus.— Hokkaido University (@HokkaidoUni) June 9, 2022
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The fossil represents a newly described species, which the researchers named “Paralitherizinosaurus japonicus”. As per the study, the dinosaur belonged to a group known as Therizinosaurs - bipedal and primarily herbivorous three-toed dinosaurs.
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The most remarkable aspect of this species is that it had sword-like claws. The researchers explained that the Edward Scissorhands-like weapons were used for slashing vegetation rather than eviscerating animal prey.
"[This dinosaur] used its claws as foraging tools, rather than tools of aggression, to draw shrubs and trees closer to its mouth to eat," study co-author Anthony Fiorillo, a research professor in the Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, told Live Science.
"We believe it died on land and was washed out to sea,” Mr Fiorillo added.
The hooked-shaped fossil with a partial vertebra and a partial wrist and forefoot was originally discovered in 2008 in the fossil-rich Osoushinai Formation in Hokkaido, Japan, by a different team of researchers. The fossil was encased in a concretion - a hardened mineral deposit - at the time of its discovery, and it was previously believed it belong to a therizinosaur.
However, due to a lack of comparative data at the time, the original researchers were unable to draw any definitive conclusions, representatives of Hokkaido University said in a statement. Now, with developments in data that enable to classify therizinosaurus based on the morphology of forefoot claws, scientists decided to revisit the fossil.
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Based on their analysis, the authors of the new study concluded that the fossil belonged to a therizinosaur. Based on the specimen alone, it's impossible to know for sure how large the therizinosaur was, Mr Fiorillo told Live Science. However, he added that the dinosaur was "sizable,” which could grow to be 30 feet long (9 meters) and weigh up to 3 tons.