The Unexpected Find
In the pursuit of knowledge about dinosaur species, Kyle Atkins-Weltman, while studying for his master’s degree at the University of Kansas, stumbled upon an extraordinary discovery. Initially examining Anzu wyliei fossils, famously known as the “Chicken From Hell,” Atkins-Weltman identified peculiarities that led to the revelation of a previously unknown dinosaur: Eoneophron infernalis.
Noticing Oddities in the Anzu Fossils
Ordering Anzu fossils from a collector, Atkins-Weltman observed anomalies in the bones sourced from the Hell Creek Formation. The femur head appeared shorter, set at an odd angle, and ankle bones were fused to the tibia—an unprecedented characteristic in Anzu. Despite being 25% smaller, Atkins-Weltman initially assumed they belonged to a juvenile Anzu until further evidence proved otherwise.
Seeking Expert Opinion
To confirm his findings, Atkins-Weltman sought the expertise of Oklahoma State University anatomy professor Holly Woodward. Microscopic examination revealed that the dinosaur was not a juvenile but a distinct species, having reached its peak growth.
The Discovery Process
Atkins-Weltman expressed the exhilaration, shock, and anxiety he felt when unexpectedly discovering Eoneophron infernalis. The pressure to thoroughly differentiate the new species from its family members motivated him to work diligently.
Unveiling Eoneophron Infernalis
Atkins-Weltman officially introduced the new species, named Eoneophron infernalis, in the journal PLOS One. The name translates to “Pharaoh’s dawn chicken from hell,” paying homage to Anzu and his late pet, a Nile monitor lizard named Pharaoh.
Characteristics of Eoneophron Infernalis
Weighing between 150 to 160 pounds and standing at about three feet high, Eoneophron was a bird-like dinosaur with feathers, wings, a toothless beak, and a short tail. Coexisting with Anzu, Tyrannosaurus rex, and Triceratops, this discovery challenges assumptions about the decline of dinosaur species after the asteroid impact 66 million years ago.
Despite this groundbreaking find, mysteries surround Eoneophron infernalis, particularly regarding its diet. The absence of a skull complicates dietary inferences, though the toothless beak suggests a unique feeding approach.
A Slow Scientific Breakthrough
Atkins-Weltman’s discovery underscores the gradual nature of scientific breakthroughs, emphasizing the journey that often starts with curiosity rather than a sudden revelation.
FAQs About Eoneophron Infernalis
- Q: How did Kyle Atkins-Weltman discover Eoneophron infernalis?
- A: While studying Anzu wyliei fossils, peculiarities led to the identification of a new species, Eoneophron infernalis.
- Q: What distinguishes Eoneophron infernalis from other dinosaur species?
- A: Unique characteristics like fused ankle bones and a shorter femur head set it apart from known species.
- Q: What does the name “Eoneophron infernalis” signify?
- A: The name translates to “Pharaoh’s dawn chicken from hell,” paying homage to Anzu and the discoverer’s pet lizard.
- Q: How does Eoneophron infernalis challenge existing assumptions about dinosaurs?
- A: The biodiversity of Eoneophron and Anzu suggests that this family of species was thriving before the asteroid impact.
- Q: What’s next for Kyle Atkins-Weltman’s research?
- A: Atkins-Weltman will shift towards a broader perspective, exploring the bigger picture in his ongoing research.