Last Updated Thu, 06 May 2004 10:09:17 EDT
CALGARY - Fossil hunters have described a new type of feathered, meat-eating dinosaur that roamed the badlands in southern Alberta 70 million years ago.
Philip Currie, head of dinosaur research at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alta. named the creature Atrociraptor marshalli, or savage robber.
It is related to the swift velociraptors of Jurassic Park fame, but is smaller with a shorter, deeper snout like a bulldog.
Paleontologists discovered a partial skull of the Atrociraptor near Drumheller, Alta. in 1995. Currie describes the find and how its dagger-like teeth set it apart in the book Feathered Dragons: Studies on the Transition from Dinosaurs to Birds.
Altrociraptor is the first new meat-eating dinosaur to be discovered in Alberta in 14 years, Currie said. People have been searching the fossil-rich area for 125 years.
Remains of smaller dinosaurs like Altrociraptor are relatively rare because they don't preserve as well, he said.
Detail of Atrociraptor marshalli fossil
Based on studies of a related specimen found in Montana, the raptors probably hunted in packs, Currie said.
Raptors like Altrociraptor are considered the closest non-avian relatives of a Archaeopteryx, a feathered fossil with both reptile and bird features.