Name: Halszkaraptor ‭(‬Halszka's seizer‭)‬.
Phonetic: Hal-z-ka-rap-tor.
Named By: A.‭ ‬Cau,‭ ‬V.‭ ‬Beyrand,‭ ‬D.‭ ‬F.‭ ‬A.‭ ‬E.‭ ‬Voeten,‭ ‬V.‭ ‬Fernandez,‭ ‬P.‭ ‬Tafforeau,‭ ‬K.‭ ‬Stein,‭ ‬R.‭ ‬Barsbold,‭ ‬K.‭ ‬Tsogtbaatar,‭ ‬P.‭ ‬J.‭ ‬Currie‭ & ‬P.‭ ‬Godefroit‭ ‬-‭ ‬2017.
Classification: Chordata,‭ ‬Reptilia,‭ ‬Dinosauria,‭ ‬Saurischia,‭ ‬Theropoda,‭ ‬Dromaeosauridae,‭ ‬Halszkaraptorinae.
Species: H.‭ ‬escuilliei‭ (‬type‭)‬.
Diet: Piscivore‭?
Size: Skull to sacrum length‭ = ‬45‭ ‬centimetres.
Known locations: Mongolia‭ ‬-‭ ‬Djadochta Formation‭?
Time period: Campanian‭? ‬of the Cretaceous.
Fossil representation: Almost complete skull and post cranial skeleton of a sub adult.

       Halszkaraptor is without doubt one of the most interesting dromaeosaurid dinosaurs ever discovered.‭ ‬Although a dromaeosaurid dinosaur,‭ ‬Halszkaraptor seems to have lived more like a modern day semi aquatic bird.‭
       Halszkaraptor could still walk about on land,‭ ‬the rear legs were easily strong enough for this.‭ ‬But the tail was not stiffened like it was in other kinds of dromaeosaurs.‭ ‬The tail was also shorter,‭ ‬shifting the bodies centre of gravity forward,‭ ‬something that would make swimming easier.‭ ‬The forelimbs were adapted to small flipper-like appendages,‭ ‬features that would have allowed Halszkaraptor to stroke through the water,‭ ‬further enhancing swimming.‭
       The head also shows specialisation for aquatic hunting.‭ ‬When seen from above the snout is rounded into a rough spoon shape,‭ ‬increasing surface area for prey capture.‭ ‬Each premaxilla bone‭ (‬the forward most tooth bearing bone in the upper jaw‭) ‬has eleven teeth,‭ ‬which at the time of its description,‭ ‬more than any other known dinosaur.‭ ‬Further to this small channels in the skull‭ ‬of Halszkaraptor have been interpreted as being placements for electro-sensory organs,‭ ‬features that would have detected the body movements of aquatic creatures such as fish,‭ ‬even when Halszkaraptor could not actually see them.
       These features combine to describe Halszkaraptor as a small dinosaur that may have hunted small fish in a similar manner to how a modern day merganser‭ (‬sometimes called a goosander‭) ‬does today.

       Aside from being a very interesting dinosaur,‭ ‬the discovery of Halszkaraptor also highlights the problem of the black market fossil trade.‭ ‬In many parts of the world it is illegal to take fossils across the border of the country where they are found‭ (‬unless exceptional permission is granted from local authorities first‭)‬.‭ ‬This has led to an illegal fossil trade where fossil poachers will illegally excavate or just steal fossils already dug up,‭ ‬and then smuggle them out of the country to sell on the international black market.
       In the case of Halszkaraptor,‭ ‬the holotype fossil was taken from Mongolia,‭ ‬possibly from the Djadochta Formation,‭ ‬though that detail we cannot yet be certain about.‭ ‬This is because scientists did not finds out about it until‭ ‬2015‭ ‬when it appeared in Europe,‭ ‬going through other private collections in various countries first.‭ ‬Fortunately when it came into the ownership François Escuillié,‭ ‬he realised its importance‭ ‬and‭ ‬took it to a museum for palaeontologists to look at.‭ ‬Not only was it confirmed to be a new genus,‭ ‬and an important one,‭ ‬François Escuillié agreed to the type specimen being returned to Mongolian authorities.‭ ‬This is why the type species name of Halszkaraptor,‭ ‬H.‭ ‬escuilliei,‭ ‬was created in honour of François Escuillié.‭ ‬The genus name Halszkaraptor,‭ ‬is in honour of Polish paleontologist Halszka Osmólska,‭ ‬for his work on many Mongolian fossils,‭ ‬especially those to do with dinosaurs.

Further reading
-‭ ‬Synchrotron scanning reveals amphibious ecomorphology in a new clade of bird-like dinosaurs.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Nature.‭ ‬-‭ ‬A.‭ ‬Cau,‭ ‬V.‭ ‬Beyrand,‭ ‬D.‭ ‬F.‭ ‬A.‭ ‬E.‭ ‬Voeten,‭ ‬V.‭ ‬Fernandez,‭ ‬P.‭ ‬Tafforeau,‭ ‬K.‭ ‬Stein,‭ ‬R.‭ ‬Barsbold,‭ ‬K.‭ ‬Tsogtbaatar,‭ ‬P.‭ ‬J.‭ ‬Currie‭ & ‬P.‭ ‬Godefroit‭ ‬-‭ ‬2017.
-‭ ‬The body plan of Halszkaraptor escuilliei‭ (‬Dinosauria,‭ ‬Theropoda‭) ‬is not a transitional form along the evolution of dromaeosaurid hypercarnivory.‭ ‬-‭ ‬PeeJ.‭ ‬-‭ ‬Andrea Cau‭ ‬-‭ ‬2020.


Random favourites