Sunday, March 23, 2014

Anzu: Prehistoric Animal of the Week

 This week we will be looking at a newly described species of dinosaur, Anzu wylieiAnzu was a theropod dinosaur, related to Oviraptor, that lived in what is now South Dakota, USA, roughly 66 million years ago.  It was pretty large for an oviraptorosaur, measuring about eleven feet long from beak to tail and standing over five feet tall.  Anzu's diet is a bit of a mystery.  Scientists guess it could have been an omnivore judging by its toothless, yet powerful beak.  When alive it would have coexisted with dinosaurs like Triceratops, Ankylosaurus, Pachycephalosaurus, Dracorex, Edmontosaurus, and Tyrannosaurus

Poor Anzu is technically a "new" species...but we have known about if for over a decade.  There has even been a mounted skeleton of it on display in the Smithsonian Museum in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania...and it's been there for years but wasn't given an actual name until last week.  Up until that point everyone just referred to it as "that oviraptorosaur from the late Cretaceous of North America".  Sheesh!

Anzu life reconstruction by Christopher DiPiazza

Anzu belonged to a family within oviraptorosauria called Caenegnathidae.  Caenegnathids were very bird-like in appearance due to their beaks, long necks and feathers.  They had lightweight bones with holes where muscles and air sacs would have attached in life.  They also had strange toothless beaks with ridges on the inside.  As I stated above, scientists have always been puzzled as to what exactly these dinosaurs ate, but it appears that at least some of them could have been specialized feeders.  Anzu also had a tall, disc-shaped crest running from it's nose to the back of its head.  This was most likely a display adaptation.

Skeletal mount of Anzu on display in Pittsburg.

Up until its official naming last week, scientists referred to Anzu as the "chicken from hell".  (Everyone loves comparing feathered non-avian dinosaurs to chickens for some reason)  In fact, its genus was originally intended to be a translation of "hell chicken".  Eventually it was named after a demon from ancient Mesopotamian culture (called Anzu) which looked like a bird with the head of a lion.  Even World of Warcraft has a boss monster, named Anzu which coincidentally actually looks a bit like the real dinosaur!

Anzu from World of Warcraft.

That's all for this week!  Join us next week as we checkout another newly (for realz) discovered dinosaur!  As always feel free to comment below or on our facebook page!


Currie, P. J., S. J. Godfrey, et al. (1993). "New caenagnathid (Dinosauria: Theropoda) specimens from the Upper Cretaceous of North America and Asia." Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 30(10-11): 2255-2272.

Lamanna, M. C.; Sues, H. D.; Schachner, E. R.; Lyson, T. R. (2014). "A New Large-Bodied Oviraptorosaurian Theropod Dinosaur from the Latest Cretaceous of Western North America". PLoS ONE 9 (3): e92022. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0092022.


  1. "In fact, its genus was originally intended to be a translation of 'hell chicken' "

    Makes me wonder what they were originally thinking of calling it, Hadesgallus or something?

    1. Gallihades... That's one 'chicken' you wouldn't want to mess with.

  2. Being a Featherd animal, Is it safe to speculate that this Dinosaur could of had a Featherry Neck frill made like the Tail Feathers of a Peacock(Yes i know there not part of the tail) I was thinking of doing that for my Animasaurus Anzu model.