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Duck-dinosaur hybrid baffles scientists with mixed-up body

The artwork by Lukas Panzarin, Andrea Cau, for the scientific guidance, shows a Halszkaraptor escuilliei dinosaur.

(Lukas Panzarin via AP)

What do you get when you cross a duck, a crocodile, a swan, a penguin and an ostrich? The newest species of dinosaur with a cartoon-like appearance.

The latest dino discovery was announced Wednesday in an investigation of the journal Nature. It ran like an ostrich, had fins and could swim like a penguin, had a bill like a duck, and a neck like a swan, but had killer claws and teeth like a crocodile, which it need to, because it was a carnivorous dinosaur.

And the whole package came in at a whopping 18 inches high.

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It was called Halszkaraptor escuilliei, or “Halszka” in short, after the late Polish palaeontologist Halszka Osmolska.

According to the study, the skeleton of the small bird-like creature was discovered in a sandstone rock and is believed to have roamed Mongolia 75 million years ago.

This photo of the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility shows a Halszkaraptor escuilliei fossil at the ESRF facility in Grenoble, France.

(Pierre Jayet/ESRF via AP)

Lead author Andrea Cau, a paleontologist of Bologna, Italy, said that he was at first very suspicious about the fossil authenticity, both because of its appearance and the fact that the rock containing the skeleton was smuggled from Mongolia and left in a private collector’s hands.

“I asked myself:” Is this a real, natural skeleton, or an artifact, a chimera? If this is a fake, how could I see it?'” Cau said. “In the assumption that it was a fake, instead of starting from the assumption that the fossil is really the most appropriate way to begin the investigation of such a bizarre fossil.”

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Researchers used a Synchrotron, a powerful X-ray generator to make three-dimensional images of the fossil, which showed that the creature was indeed an animal and not a concoction built from several sources.

Paul Tafforeau, a co-author of the study and a paleontologist in Grenoble, France-home of the European Synchrotron — said the dinosaur’s mashup body is permitted to run and hunt on the ground and the fish in fresh water.

Another author of the study, Dennis Feet, described it as “a peculiar animal” adding that the dinosaur “is a combination of various parts that we knew of other groups in these small animals.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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