Where did a 600-pound monster chicken from Hell (Creek), really a feathered dinosaur called Anzu wyliei, sit? Anywhere he wanted! The discovery of this strange-looking, fearsome predator was around 10 years ago, but the dinosaur is in the news lately because it has finally gotten a name.
Being labeled “the Chicken from Hell,” has definitely added to the notoriety of Anzu wyliei, and has made articles about it among the most popular at whatever site mentions the long-extinct beast.
Anzu wyliei lived during the same period, the Cretaceous, that Tyrannosaurus Rex roamed the world. While it probably steered clear of the jaws of T.Rex, Anzu wyliei, which resembled a cross between a ferocious velociraptor and an ostrich (according to scientist Matt Lamanna), likely inspired quite a bit of fear in the hearts of many smaller animals that lived then.
Descriptions don’t do Anzu wyliei justice, but….
Though mere descriptions often don’t do justice to the actual appearance of any animal, perhaps especially to dinosaurs, Lamana went on and described Anzu wyliei as being “a very bird-like dinosaur.” He added that it had “a really long bony tail, very large hands and really sharp claws.” The sharp claws grew to around 4 inches in length.
The beast also had long, slender back legs and stood approximately 7-10 feet tall. They measured 11-and-a-half feet long from the tip of their beaks to the ends of their tails. The bird-like dinosaur had no teeth in its beak, and it came equipped with a crest on its head similar to that of a rooster or cassowary.
It’s been theorized by scientists that many dinosaurs had such crests on their heads, like one recently discovered on a species of hadrosaur, or duck-billed dinosaur, called Torvosaurus gurneyi. However, the crests didn’t generally fossilize very well, not being made of bone. Apparently, Anzu wyliei also had bird-like feathers, though they were flightless.
Matt Lamana is one of the people behind the discovery and naming of Anzu wyliei, a dinosaur that definitely wasn’t some paltry example of poultry. He, along with scientists from the Smithsonian Institution and the University of Utah, had their findings about the dinosaur published in PLOS One this past Monday.
Lamana excavated at several sites in North and South Dakota to come up with an almost complete skeleton of Anzu wyliei. Besides the dinosaur resembling a demonic giant version of today’s chickens, Anzu wyliei — named after both a Mesopotamian feathered demon and the grandson of a trustee of the Carnegie museum, where a life-sized replica of the skeleton is displayed — earned its nickname because three of the sites Lamana excavated were located at an area known as Hell Creek.
Lamana had actually wanted to name it the equivalent in Latin or Greek to “the chicken from hell,” but he said that the expression didn’t translate very well, and would have been very difficult to try to pronounce. That’s why he decided to go with the next best thing, and name the chicken-like dinosaur after a feathered demon.
Anzu wyliei would have been a sight to make even Colonel Sanders, of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame, pause and scratch his head in wonder — before possibly wetting himself and fleeing in terror upon being confronted by a chicken from Hell.
Written by: Douglas Cobb