A newly discovered dinosaur, related to the Velociraptor, had a curved talon that it used as a weapon, scientists have said.
The findings have been published in the journal Public Library of Science ONE, which indicate that the toe of this dinosaur was either bitten or fractured before becoming infected.
When the researchers began studying the fossil, they discovered signs of trauma to its second toe on its left foot, the one that would have borne an enlarged hook-like claw.
When we realised we had evidence of an injury, the excitement was palpable, said lead researcher Dr Lindsay Zanno, from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside in the U.S.
The researchers explained that evidence of injury can shed light on how a body part was used. Scientists analyzed the left toe using a high-resolution computed tomography (CT) X-ray scanner.
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The researchers discovered the specimen in the 1.9 million-acre Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in southern Utah.
The newfound 75-million-year-old dinosaur is a feathered raptor named Talos sampsoni: Talos in honor of a winged bronze giant in Greek mythology that was capable of running at lightning speed and that yielded to a wound to his ankle, sampsoni in honor of Scott Sampson of the PBS series Dinosaur Train and a research curator at the Utah Museum of Natural History.
Talos was a type of troodontid, a group of dinosaurs whose anatomy suggests they were closely related to birds.
It is estimated to have been about 6 feet long and weighed about 83 pounds.
It remains uncertain what Talos might have eaten. Many are still debating over what its relatives ate, Zanno said. My recent research suggests it was probably either a carnivore or an omnivore, eating some degree of prey.