Natovenator Polydontus’s well-preserved remains – a skeleton about 70% complete – were recently unearthed in the Gobi Desert.
- The dinosaur, called Natovenator polydontus, lived about 72 million years ago during the Cretaceous Period and was built like a diving bird with a streamlined body while possessing a goose-like elongated neck and a long flattened snout with a mouth bearing more than 100 small teeth. It was almost covered in feathers.
- While it was a cousin of speedy little predator Velociraptor, Natovenator was adapted to a semi-aquatic lifestyle in a freshwater ecosystem, perhaps floating on rivers and lakes, paddling with its front limbs, and using its flexible neck to catch fish and insects or diving underwater to capture its prey.
- Natovenator is part of the dinosaur group called theropods – sharing traits including bipedalism – best known for large meat-eaters including Tyrannosaurus, Tarbosaurus and Giganotosaurus.
- But the theropods, many of which were feathered, branched out in unusual directions with examples such as long-clawed ground sloth-like Therizinosaurus, ostrich-like Struthiomimus, termite-eating Mononykus and the entire bird lineage.