New species of dinosaur discovered in Chile with bizarre weapon-shaped tail

Credit: mauricio_alvarez_art

A new species of dinosaur characterized by its strange weapon-shaped tail has been discovered in Chile.

About two meters in size, the small armored dinosaur of the Ankylosaurus The genus dates from the late Cretaceous, between 71.7 and 74.9 million years ago. Its fossilized skeleton, practically complete, was found in the province of Magallanes, in the southernmost region of Chile, in Patagonia.

The dinosaur, named Stegourus elengassen, had developed a large, weapon-like tail unlike anything seen before on other types of armored dinosaurs, such as the pairs of spikes on the Stegosaurus.

While his skull had characteristics similar to those found in other types of Ankylosaurus, the shape of the tail had never been seen before in other dinosaurs, according to the study published this Wednesday in the journal Nature. The dinosaur’s tail had seven pairs of flattened bone deposits in a fern-like structure.

“The tail is extremely strange, because it is short for a dinosaur and the end is covered with dermal bones (bones that grow on the skin), forming a singular weapon,” said Sergio Soto Acuña, author of the study. and doctoral student at the University of Chile.

Soto said the tail resembled that of a rattlesnake or lizard, but unlike them, it was made of real bones. The most similar feature in another species would be the tail of a type of giant armadillo, which is also extinct.

Fossilized plants discovered in the same region indicate that the climate was warmer during the dinosaur’s time, very different from the current frigid climate that is characteristic of Patagonia.

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