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Researcher: ‘You Would Not Want to Mess With’ Newly Discovered Dinosaur Species

posted: 05/12/15
by: Danny Clemens
Saurornitholestes sullivani illustration
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Two Saurornitholestes sullivani attack a larger dinosaur.
Mary P. Williams/University of Pennsylvania

A University of Pennsylvania researcher has identified a new species of dinosaur that came equipped with a keen sense of smell, making it a vicious predator in spite of its small size.

Less than three feet tall, Saurornitholestes sullivani roamed the southern United States 75 million years ago, during the Late Cretaceous period. UPenn doctoral student Steven Jasinski distinguished the species from its relatives by the large olfactory bulb in its brain, which powered its heightened sense of smell.

"This feature means that Saurornitholestes sullivani had a relatively better sense of smell than other dromaeosaurid dinosaurs, including Velociraptor, Dromaeosaurus, and Bambiraptor," Jasinski remarked. "This keen olfaction may have made S. sullivani an intimidating predator as well."

"Although it was not large, this was not a dinosaur you would want to mess with," he added.

The specimen was first discovered by paleontologist Robert Sullivan in New Mexico in 1999, and was originally thought to be a member of Saurornitholestes langstoni. The species' new name, S. sullivani, pays homage to Sullivan.

Jasinski's findings are detailed in a new study, published in the latest New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science Bulletin.

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