Listen to Today's Edition
Paleontologists first discovered the fossilized remains of a duck-sized dinosaur in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert in 2008. Recently, they were able to properly analyze the fossils, which they described as “beautifully preserved.”
The extinct creature had a mouth full of more than 100 small, sharp teeth and sported a long, slender neck.
While those features pointed to a creature that had adapted to the underwater world, the research team noted that the orientation and shape of the ribs – which were slightly flattened – showed that it had a sleek body perfect for diving.
They named it Natovenator polydontus, which means “swimming hunter with many teeth.”
The discovery provides the earliest evidence that some dinosaurs could dive underwater, even though some researchers remain skeptical.
Paleontologist Nizar Ibrahim, who proposes that the large Spinosaur hunted underwater, noted that more evidence is needed, such as a thorough analysis of Natovenator’s biomechanical capabilities and more comparisons with other aquatic animals.
Still, others suggested that the findings provide more insights into how dinosaurs became so diverse over time.
“Finding semiaquatic dinosaurs means that the ecological diversity was very high in dinosaurs, and it could change our prejudice about the lifestyle of dinosaurs,” said co-author Yuong-Nam Lee.