The exquisite fossil, which was rescued from poachers, is one of the few known dinosaurs that lived on the water.
More than 70 million years ago, a creature roaming Earth’s ancient wetlands may have looked like a duck and hunted like a duck—but it was really a dinosaur related to Velociraptor.
Described based on a nearly complete skeleton still embedded in rock, Halszkaraptor escuilliei is an unusually amphibious theropod that lived in what is now Mongolia during the late Cretaceous. At the time, the area broadly resembled today’s Egyptian Nile, with nourishing lakes and rivers that coursed through an arid, sandy landscape.
Like modern aquatic predators, this dinosaur’s face seems to have had an exquisite sense of touch, useful for finding prey in murky waters. Its small teeth would have helped it nab tiny fish, and its limber backbone and flipper-like forelimbs suggest that it cut through the water with ease.