A new study found enough evidence to determine that at least one species of dinosaur he might have been an expert swimmer, diving like a duck to catch his prey.
The Natovenator polydontus was a theropodor hollow-bodied dinosaur with three fingers and claws on each limb, lived in Mongolia during the Late Cretaceous period, between 145 and 66 million years ago, the study published in Communications Biology.
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The researchers noted that Natovenator had streamlined ribs, like those of diving birds.
“Its body shape suggests that the Natovenator was a potentially swimming predator, and that the streamlined body evolved independently in separate lineages of theropod dinosaurs,” the authors wrote.
David Hone, a paleontologist and professor at Queen Mary University of London, told CNN that it’s hard to say exactly where the Natovenator falls on the spectrum, whether it’s entirely terrestrial or entirely aquatic. But the specimen’s arms “seem to be quite good at moving in the water,” he said. Hone participated in the review of the Communications Biology study.
The next step, Hone said, would be to model the dinosaur’s body shape to help scientists understand exactly how it might have moved. “Was he paddling with his feet, a bit doggy style? How fast could he go?”