These 9 Discovered Species Made 2015 A Dinomite Year

One species has been described as "feathery, fluffy, winged Chickens from Hell."

Most of us can only name a handful of dinosaur groups and species, namely those that were represented in "The Land Before Time."

Dinosaurs like the Apatosaurus (aka Little Foot), Triceratops (aka Cera), Stegosaurus (aka Spike) and Tyrannosaurus (aka Chomper) get all the glory, even though scientists have named approximately 700 dinosaur species.

Making sense of fossils from 100 million years ago, however, is tricky business. Many scientists have a hard time agreeing on distinctions and some studies suggest there isn't enough evidence to fully support the uniqueness of half of the named dinosaur species.

Still, paleontologists think there are least 700 to 900 species still waiting to be discovered -- and 2015 helped us inch toward that enlightenment.

Below, check out nine totally weird species discovered this year, as well as what we imagine their names should have been.

Because dino-love never goes extinct.

Qijianglong, or The Long-Necked Dragon
Illustration: Lida Xing
Believed to have roamed Asia about 160 million years ago, the Qijianglong was identified by skull and vertebrae fossils unearthed by construction workers in 2006 near Quiang City, China. The dino's neck is extremely long, making up more than half of the creature's 49-foot body.
Yi qi, or The Mysterious Bat Pigeon
Dinostar Co. Ltd./AP
Yi qi is Mandarin for "strange wing," which is appropriate since this tiny dino has totally puzzled scientists. Fossils dating back about 160 million years were discovered in China's Hebei Province and suggest the pigeon-sized creature had wings made of skin, like a bat's, instead of feathers. Scientists can't determine if these creatures flapped, glided or couldn't fly at all.
Saurornitholestes sullivani, or The Even More Lethal Velociraptor
Illustration: MARY P. WILLIAMS
See those smaller dinos harassing a larger -- but helpless -- hadrosaur? That's S. sullivani, a newly identified raptor that is thought to be totally deadly thanks to a powerful sense of smell and its agility. “Although it was not large," one scientist said, "this was not a dinosaur you would want to mess with."
Zhenyuanlong suni, aka The Fluffy Chicken From Hell
The University of Edinburgh
Well-preserved fossils found in China turned out to belong to a close relative of the Velociraptor. They suggest that real Velociraptors (not the "Jurassic Park" versions) were feathery and fluffy -- but just as lethal as they've always been known to be.

"The real Velociraptors," a paleontologist said, "would have been feathery, fluffy, winged Chickens from Hell."

While Zhenyuanlong suni may have had a set of birdlike wings, it was too short to fly and was likely used for show and egg protection.
Lightning Claw, aka T. Rex's Little Cousin
With 10-inch claws, what else could scientists name this thing? The extraordinary meat-eating dinosaur was discovered in an opal mine in Australia, making its fossils a gorgeous blue color. The 22-foot-long beast was certainly no match for T. rex, but its huge hook-like claws definitely made it ferocious.
Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis, aka The Arctic Nightowl
James Havens
Ugrunaaluk kuukpikensis were "truly polar," according to scientists. Their fossils were discovered in northern Alaska, which means the large, duck-billed herbivore had the resilience to live in darkness for months at a time and endure the unforgiving environment. Scientists still aren't sure what they did for food during the long, hard winters.
Hualianceratops wucaiwanensis, aka The Big-Headed Dog Dino
Portia Sloan Rollings
Fossils found in China suggest the Triceratops had a super-weird relative. "It was probably about the size of a spaniel dog, with a relatively large head, and walked on its hind legs," a paleontologist told HuffPost. H. wucaiwanensis is thought to be the oldest known member of the ceratopsians genus (which includes the Triceratops) and its remains have helped scientists better understand the early evolution of horned dinosaurs.
Morelladon, aka The Humpback Sail
Carlos de Miguel Chaves
Some 125 million years ago, these strange fellows wandered around what is now Spain. Their sail-like humpback stood about 2 feet tall and was likely used to either help regulate heat or to store fat. Most interesting is that these structures appear in many vertebrates throughout history, even those not closely related to each other.

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