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The Dragons of Romania


Dragons are not

merely the stuff of legend –

one terrorised the inhabitants
of Romania long before
St George ever picked
up a lance,
scientists revealed,
reports August 30th, 2010.

The creature in question was
a powerfully-built meat-eating
dinosaur with scythe-like
claws for ripping apart prey.

Experts named it Balaur bondoc,
which means
“stocky dragon” in Romanian.

As dragons and dinosaurs go,
it was not especially large at
around seven feet long.
But nor were most of its victims,
since Romania was an island when
Balaur hunted there some 80
million years ago.

Animals trapped on islands often
evolve into unusual dwarf forms –
the so-called “island effect”.

Other fossils found in the same
region include cow-sized relatives
of giant sauropod dinosaurs,
and tiny duck-billed dinosaurs.

“Balaur might be one of the
largest predators in this ecosystem
because not even a big tooth has
been found in Romania after over
100 years of research,”
said dinosaur expert Dr Zoltan Csiki,
from the University of Bucharest,
one of the authors of the research
published in the journal Proceedings
of the National Academy of Sciences.

Towards the end of
the dinosaurs’ reign,
in the Late Cretaceous period,
much of present-day Europe
was an archipelago of islands.

A partial skeleton of Balaur
including leg, hip, vertebrae,
arms, rib and tail bones,
was unearthed from a former
floodplain near the city of Sebes
in central Romania.

The dinosaur is related to Velociraptor,
one of the stars of the
Jurassic Park movies.

it had a stockier build,
with short legs and powerful muscles,
suggesting it was built for strength
rather than speed,
Its most unusual feature was two
oversized toe claws instead of
Velociraptor’s one.



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