Another link

The bones of the 125-million-year-old dinosaur, discovered in ancient stone in east-central Utah and documented last week in the journal Nature, indicate that the creature may be an evolutionary link between ferocious meat-eaters and their gentle vegetarian cousins. Falcarius utahensis was a bizarre combination of both and “represents evolution caught in the act,” as researcher Scott Sampson — chief curator at the Utah Museum of Natural History — put it in a University of Utah press release.

The name given to this tweener beast means ‘’Utah sickle-maker,” chosen because of its sharply curved 4-inch claws, which could shred flesh. But the dinosaur, which walked on two legs and measured 4 feet tall and 13 feet long, had small teeth designed to shred leaves and a large belly for fermenting and digesting plants. It probably had feathers, although it could not fly. The Utah research team speculates that the dinosaur’s diet was a combination of meat and vegetation. But adapting can be difficult, even with centuries to do it.

The Utah fossil site confirms that, for it is a mass graveyard where thousands of the dinosaurs died at once, possibly from drinking water poisoned by algae or animal carcasses. One wonders what less dramatic daily living might have held for this eclectic dino with no obvious niche. — The Boston Globe