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New dinosaur species named ‘Captain Hook’ with a curved claw is found in Montana

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Paleontologists unearthed a new dinosaur species that has been named it in honor of the mythical character ‘Captain Hook’ because of a unique hooked claw at the end of its arms.

Dubbed Trirarchuncus prairiensis, the creature was covered with sleek feathers and had two short arms with a long claw at each end that it used to dig or break apart wood in search of insects

Researchers discovered three different sized hand claws in the Hell Creek Formation of Montana, one of which is the most complete claw known of the species.

The fossilized claws are also more hooked that others found in the past and are from different growth stages, providing experts with a look at how the hook-handed dinosaur changed as it aged.

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Paleontologists unearthed a new dinosaur species that has been named it in honor of the mythical character 'Captain Hook' because of a unique hooked claw at the end of its arms

Paleontologists unearthed a new dinosaur species that has been named it in honor of the mythical character ‘Captain Hook’ because of a unique hooked claw at the end of its arms

The hook-handed dinosaur is a member of alvarezsaurida, which were small, long-legged creatures and have been speculated to represent the earliest ancestors of today’s flightless birds.

The name ‘Trierarchuncus refers to the ‘trierarch’, a seafaring ship’s captain, and ‘uncus’ meaning hook which combined form ‘Captain Hook’ in reference to the hook-handed pirate from Peter Pan.

The new species is the youngest of the group and is said to be one of the last dinosaurs to walk the Earth before being wiped out during the end-Cretaceous mass extinction event.

It had long legs, with feet that look similar to that of an ostrich and a very long, point snout.

Researchers discovered three different sized hand claws in the Hell Creek Formation of Montana, one of which is the most complete claw known of the species

Researchers discovered three different sized hand claws in the Hell Creek Formation of Montana, one of which is the most complete claw known of the species

The fossilized claws are also more hooked that others found in the past and are from different growth stages, providing experts with a look at how the hook-handed dinosaur changed as it aged

The fossilized claws are also more hooked that others found in the past and are from different growth stages, providing experts with a look at how the hook-handed dinosaur changed as it aged

What makes this dinosaur so unique was its short arms that had a large claw at the end.

Scientists unearthed three of these hand claws while excavating Hell Creek Formation, which is known as a paleontologist’s dream.

The site is near Jordan, Montana in the eastern region of the state and is littered with division of rocks in North America dating to the end of the Cretaceous Period some 65.5 million years ago.

The three claws provide experts with a growth series of the hook-handed dinosaur, starting with a juvenile up until a full-grown adult.

One of the claws is the most complete to be discovered of an Alvarezsaurida and is much hooked than those previously found

One of the claws is the most complete to be discovered of an Alvarezsaurida and is much hooked than those previously found

The new species is the youngest of the group and is said to be one of the last dinosaurs to walk the Earth before being wiped out during the end-Cretaceous mass extinction event

The new species is the youngest of the group and is said to be one of the last dinosaurs to walk the Earth before being wiped out during the end-Cretaceous mass extinction event

‘This is important as it is recognized that dinosaurs changed in shape, often significantly, as they grew,’ researchers shared in a statement.

‘Indeed, the new fossils show that as Trierarchuncus grew its hand claw became more robust; blood vessel grooves on the sides of the claw became more deeply embedded in bone; and the claw surface developed from being smooth in young individuals, into a rough surface texture in adults.’

One of the claws is the most complete to be discovered of an Alvarezsaurida and is much hooked than those previously found.

HOW THE DINOSAURS WENT EXTINCT AROUND 66 MILLION YEARS AGO

Dinosaurs ruled and dominated Earth around 66 million years ago, before they suddenly went extinct. 

The Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event is the name given to this mass extinction.

It was believed for many years that the changing climate destroyed the food chain of the huge reptiles. 

In the 1980s, paleontologists discovered a layer of iridium.

This is an element that is rare on Earth but is found  in vast quantities in space.  

When this was dated, it coincided precisely with when the dinosaurs disappeared from the fossil record. 

A decade later, scientists uncovered the massive Chicxulub Crater at the tip of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, which dates to the period in question. 

Scientific consensus now says that these two factors are linked and they were both probably caused by an enormous asteroid crashing to Earth.

With the projected size and impact velocity, the collision would have caused an enormous shock-wave and likely triggered seismic activity. 

The fallout would have created plumes of ash that likely covered all of the planet and made it impossible for dinosaurs to survive. 

Other animals and plant species had a shorter time-span between generations which allowed them to survive.

There are several other theories as to what caused the demise of the famous animals. 

One early theory was that small mammals ate dinosaur eggs and another proposes that toxic angiosperms (flowering plants) killed them off.  

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