Palaeontologists Have Unearthed a Distinctive Hook-Clawed Dinosaur in Montana

From the depths of time, out of the Hell Creek Development, emerged the very last of the hook-handed dinosaurs: Captain Hook… of the Prairie.

This fearsome creature had a tooth-loaded snout and massive, viciously hooked claws. But just about every talon sat at the close of the most ridiculously brief and stubby, one-fingered hand.


For all its sharp bits and absurd limbs, Trierarchuncus prairiensis may possibly have in point been somewhat sweet – if researchers’ impressions of what it may possibly have seemed like can be thought – thanks to its primitive feather fluff and long tail.

It was only about three metres long – little in contrast to lots of of the other big beasts that have been discovered in the Hell Creek rock formation, together with lots of T. rex and Triceratops.

T. prairiensis’s small very simple enamel counsel they when stalked seas of grass, beside these larger sized beasts, in what’s now Montana, Usa, in search of treasured tasty insect treasures to gobble, during the late cretaceous interval 66 million yrs in the past.

The team Alvarezsauria was previously only identified from fragments and isolated fossils observed in Asia and South The us. Palaeontologists have now released a new paper on their discovery of a collection of claws belonging to this recently named species.


Its title is manufactured up of ‘trierarch’, a seafaring ship’s captain in Greek, and ‘uncus’ which means hook in Latin, translating to ‘Captain Hook of the Prairie’.

The fluffy dinosaur’s hooked claws are considered to have been for tearing apart vegetation, insect nests, and rotting wooden – somewhat like anteater claws. 

(Boban Filipovic)(Boban Filipovic)

Palaeontologist Denver Fowler from the Badlands Dinosaur Museum and colleagues observed the fossils in the uppermost layer of the Hell Creek Development, producing them the youngest identified alvarezsaurid dinosaurs and amongst the very last non-avian dinosaurs identified to have existed prior to the notorious mass extinction party that wiped them out.

They are customers of a dinosaur team called maniraptorans, which also consists of dinosaurs that progressed into birds.

The collection of forelimb claw fossils will not belong to 1 specific, for the reason that these historical, strange creatures only had 1 finger – a thumb attached to little but potent arms. 

The three claws showing changes in shape and texture as the animal grew in size. (Fowler et al, Cretaceous Research, 2020)The three claws demonstrating improvements in shape and texture as the animal grew in dimension. (Fowler et al, Cretaceous Exploration, 2020)

“The new fossils stand for a advancement collection from juvenile to adult,” the researchers explain in a press release.

“The fossils exhibit that as Trierarchuncus grew its hand claw grew to become more strong blood vessel grooves on the sides of the claw grew to become more deeply embedded in bone and the claw surface formulated from currently being clean in youthful people today, into a rough surface texture in grown ups.”


These improvements are sizeable for the reason that researchers have applied this sort of options to classify the different alvarezsaurid species. Some preceding finds in this team may possibly have been categorized in accordance to their juvenile kinds – possibly producing their classification inaccurate.

“Dinosaurs changed substantially through growth,” the researchers describe in their paper. “Youthful people today may appear morphologically more identical to their ancestors than to grown ups of their have species.”

An crucial level for palaeontologists to retain in head when sorting which fossil belongs to which species.

This research was released in Cretaceous Exploration.