Top headlines

Lead story

Were dinosaurs living their best lives until an asteroid struck and wiped them out 66 million years ago? Or were they already slumping toward extinction when that final disaster hit? Paleontologists have been debating this question for decades.

A serendipitous discovery of a new species provides a clue.

Oklahoma State University researchers Kyle Atkins-Weltman and Eric Snively and their colleagues were cross-sectioning fossils in order to count rings in the bone. Much like a tree’s rings, these lines can reveal the age of the animal when it died.

It turns out that what they’d assumed was a juvenile of one species was actually a fully grown adult of a previously unknown smaller species – one they dubbed Eoneophron infernalis, or “Pharaoh’s chicken from Hell.” They explain why this new discovery from a known fossil suggests that dinosaur diversity wasn’t on the decline on that fateful day.

[ Miss us on Sundays? Get a selection of our best and most popular stories (or try our other weekly emails). ]

Maggie Villiger

Senior Science + Technology Editor

Birdlike dinosaur Eoneophron infernalis was about the size of an adult human. Zubin Erik Dutta

A newly identified ‘Hell chicken’ species suggests dinosaurs weren’t sliding toward extinction before the fateful asteroid hit

Kyle Atkins-Weltman, Oklahoma State University; Eric Snively, Oklahoma State University

Rather than a juvenile of a known species, several fossilized bones represent a new species – and shed light on the question of whether dinosaurs were already in decline before disaster struck.

Economy + Business

Politics + Society


Ethics + Religion

Environment + Energy

Science + Technology


Podcast 🎙️

Trending on site

Today's graphic 📈