BY STEVEN SPARKMAN
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How do you name a new dinosaur species? Look for something weird about it. Researchers announced the discovery of a new species from fossils overlooked for more than a decade.
Oklahoma City’s KWTV shows how the animal finally got noticed.
“It wasn’t until 2007 when a British scholar was visiting Norman that it was realized this was in fact a new species of dinosaur. Mike Taylor uncovered the never-before-seen hip bone structure, indicating hyper-development of the thigh muscles, and Brontomerus mcintoshi, or ‘thunder thighs’ was born.”
Thunder Thighs isn’t a whole skeleton. It’s a small collection of bones from an adult and a juvenile animal, and those don’t include any leg bones. KFOR TV explains how scientists know this sauropod had great legs.
“The reason why researchers believe these bones don’t belong to, well, any of the other dinosaurs here, is this bone right down here. It’s the hip bone. Specifically, this projection right here at the end of the hip bone. It’s much, much wider than anything else you’ll find in any other long-necked dinosaur.”
That hip bone is where the thigh muscles attached. Along with a shoulder bone they’ve recovered, the researchers believe these bones show Thunder Thighs had unusually powerful muscles for moving the legs forward.
Now, it could be those muscles were for moving long legs like a giraffe. But they could instead have been used for kicking, as in this illustration showing Thunder Thighs fending off a raptor attack. (Video source: University College London)
The lead researcher leans toward a kicking dinosaur, telling the Guardian other ways its kick might have been used.
“Brontomerus mcintoshi could deliver a kick nearly three times as powerful as that from similar-sized sauropods, a weapon that males may also have unleashed on each other when fighting over females... ‘It may be that males lined up next to each other, side by side, and kicked the crap out of each other...’ ”
Paleontologists previously thought long-necked dinosaurs died out after the Jurassic period. But recent finds including Thunder Thighs show sauropods kept kicking for another 50 million years.
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