Palm Beach County researchers discover new type of raptor in Sou - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Palm Beach County researchers discover new type of raptor in South Dakota

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Sink your teeth into this one.

A team of researchers, including several from Palm Beach County, dug up a major find way up to our north.

Now the fossil of the so-called 'Dakotaraptor' is here in South Florida.

“This is essentially the Ferrari of all killing machines,” says Robert DePalma, the lead researcher on the project.

Don't let the feathers fool you, however - you wouldn't want to pet this one.

“These were essentially feathery, lethal ostriches from hell,” he says.

The find was made by DePalma, a Palm Beach County Native and FAU alum, and his research team.

The entire expedition was a joint effort by the University of Kansas and the Palm Beach Museum of Natural History.

The nearly full skeleton, dug up in South Dakota, was no quick find.

“My team was there every single summer for about 10 years,” DePalma says.

And Dakotaraptor was no ordinary raptor.

Fossils DePalma brought us - both replicas and originals - show that this is one for the record books.

Dakotaraptor was 17-feet long, about 6-feet tall, complete with feathers and an approximate 8-foot wing span.

“This is one of the largest raptors that ever existed, and it's the most recent in the fossil record,” he says. “In terms of the paleo-ecology, it changes everything.”  

DePalma says it existed alongside the mighty T-Rex just before the dinosaurs went extinct.

“It could've packed a punch against a T-Rex,” he says. “It might have been able to take one down.”

The fossil will remain right here in Palm Beach County as researchers continue to study it.

DePalma, once a curious child here in Palm Beach County, revels in the fact that he grew up to become a direct witness to history.

“I love dinosaurs just as much as I love modern animals. So to find something like this, it's just candy, it's amazing.”

The researchers hope to open up the fossil for public viewing in the next month, so people can get an up close and personal look at Dakotaraptor.

For more info, visit the Palm Beach Museum of Natural History’s Facebook page

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