Tuesday 6 December 2016

T Rex's vegetarian cousin baffles scientists

Published 29/04/2015 | 14:14

Fossil hunters in Chile have unearthed a strange new species of dinosaur that is unlike anything they have seen before.

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The bizarre remains of the newly described Chilesaurus diegosuarezi combine a curious mixture of features from different prehistoric animals.

The ostrich-size dinosaur walked upright like a Tyrannosaurus rex but had the teeth of a more primitive long-necked plant eater.

"The interesting thing about this dinosaur is that different parts of it look very similar to unrelated dinosaurs," said Martin Ezcurra, a researcher at the University of Birmingham. 

An artist's depiction of Chilesaurus diegosuarezi Credit: Gabriel Lio
An artist's depiction of Chilesaurus diegosuarezi Credit: Gabriel Lio

“It boasts such an unusual combination of traits, researched compared it to a platypus, the Australian egg-laying mammal with a duckbill.”

“The most interesting (aspect) about Chilesaurus is the story that it tells about how evolution works. It is like a combination of different dinosaurs in a single species," he added.

The evolutionary muddle of a beast ranks as one of the most remarkable dinosaur finds of the past 20 years.

“Chilesaurus constitutes one of the most bizarre dinosaurs ever found," said paleontologist Fernando Novas of the Bernardino Rivadavia Natural Sciences Museum in Buenos Aires, calling the creature an evolutionary "jigsaw puzzle."

"The skeletal anatomy of Chilesaurus gathers characteristics of different dinosaur groups, like a floor is composed of mosaics of different shapes and colors. No other dinosaurs exhibit such a combination or mixture of features."

Chilesaurus lived in a region crisscrossed by rivers at the Jurassic Period's end, approximately 145 million years ago.

An artist's depiction of Chilesaurus diegosuarezi Credit: Gabriel Lio
An artist's depiction of Chilesaurus diegosuarezi Credit: Gabriel Lio
Right jaw and teeth of the Chilesaurus diegosuarezi Credit: Reuters
Right jaw and teeth of the Chilesaurus diegosuarezi Credit: Reuters
Right jaw and teeth of the Chilesaurus diegosuarezi Credit: Reuters

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