Speed Reads

Nature's Nightmares

Scientists unearth 'chicken from hell' dinosaur

Mark Klingler / Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Picture a raptor. Okay, now give it some feathers. Slap a bony protrusion atop its head, stick some talons on those skinny toes, elongate the tail and give it a few more feathers, and tada: You have the "chicken from hell," a new species of dinosaur paleontologists unveiled Wednesday.

Technically dubbed Anzu wyliei, the new species is a 10-foot-tall, 11-foot-long, 500-pound beast from the oviraptorosaur family, a group of bipedal, birdlike dinosaurs. And the chicken from hell — which Matt Lamanna, the lead scientist who discovered the creature, said was "as close as you can get to a bird without being a bird" — is one of the largest such dinosaurs ever found. Lamanna and his colleagues, who reported their findings in the journal PLOS One, pieced together the new find from bones dug up in the Dakotas in the 1990s. It wasn't until recently that they realized seemingly random fossils actually fit together to make a near-complete skeleton of Anzu wyliei.

So what does a terrifying monster chicken eat? Apparently, its diet may have included plants, eggs, animals — basically anything it felt like consuming. "It was the Swiss Army knife of the Cretaceous," Lamanna told National Geographic.

In other words: The chicken from hell don't care.