UNDATED (NBC) -
An analysis of three different fossil skeletons has produced the most complete picture yet of a bizarre birdlike dinosaur that stood about 10 feet tall, weighed 500 pounds and brandished sharp claws to counter potential predators like Tyrannosaurus rex.
"We jokingly call this thing the 'Chicken From Hell,' and I think that's pretty appropriate," Matthew Lamanna, a paleontologist at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, said in a news release heralding a newly named species called Anzu wyliei.
The creature, which lived around 66 million years ago in the Dakotas, could be considered a mashup on several levels. It had the crested head and toothless beak that would typically be associated with a modern-day flightless bird known as the cassowary, and it probably sported feathers as well. But it also had the sharp claws and robust tail of a dinosaur.
The shape of its skull and jaw suggests it was an omnivore, capable of chowing down on meat and stolen eggs as well as plants.
Even its scientific name is a blend of the horrible and the adorable: "Anzu" refers to a birdlike demon in Mesopotamian mythology, while "wyliei" comes from Wylie, the name of a museum trustee's dino-loving grandson.