Small, prickly dinosaur found in South America reveals an unknown lineage

Fossils of a small, prickly dinosaur lately found in South America could characterize a whole lineage of armored dinosaurs beforehand unknown to science. 

The newly found species, Jakapil kaniukura, seems to be like a primitive relative of armored dinosaurs like Ankylosaurus or Stegosaurus, but it surely got here from the Cretaceous, the final period of the dinosaurs, and lived between 97 million and 94 million years in the past. Which means an entire lineage of armored dinosaurs lived within the Southern Hemisphere however had gone fully undetected till now, paleontologists reported in a brand new examine. 

J. kaniukura weighed about as a lot as a home cat and had a row of protecting spines operating from its neck to its tail and doubtless grew to about 5 ft (1.5 meters) lengthy. It was a plant eater, with leaf-shaped enamel much like these of Stegosaurus

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Paleontologists on the Félix de Azara Pure Historical past Basis in Argentina uncovered a partial skeleton of a subadult J. kaniukura within the Río Negro province in northern Patagonia. The dinosaur doubtless walked upright and sported a brief beak able to delivering a powerful chunk. It most likely would have been in a position to eat robust, woody vegetation, the researchers reported Thursday (Aug. 11) within the journal Nature Reports (opens in new tab)

The brand new dinosaur joins Stegosaurus, Ankylosaurus and different armor-backed dinosaurs in a bunch known as Thyreophora. Most thyreophorans are recognized from the Northern Hemisphere, and the fossils from the earliest members of this group are discovered principally in Jurassic-period rocks from North America and Europe from about 201 million years in the past to 163 million years in the past. 

The invention of J. kaniukura “reveals that early thyreophorans had a wider geographic distribution than beforehand thought,” Félix de Azara Pure Historical past Basis paleontologists Facundo J. Riguetti and Sebastián Apesteguía and College of País Vasco paleontologist Xabier Pereda-Suberbiola wrote within the new paper. It was additionally shocking that this historical lineage of thyreophorans survived all the best way into the Late Cretaceous in South America, they added. Within the Northern Hemisphere, these older kinds of thyreophorans appear to have gone extinct by the Center Jurassic. On the southern supercontinent Gondwana, nevertheless, they apparently survived effectively into the Cretaceous. (Later thyreophorans survived longer. Ankylosaurus, for instance, went extinct with the remainder of the nonavian dinosaurs 66 million years in the past.)  

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The identify “Jakapil” comes from a phrase that means “protect bearer” within the Puelchean or northern Tehuelchean Indigenous language of Argentina. “Kanikura” comes from the phrases that means “crest” and “stone” within the Indigenous Mapudungun language. 

You’ll be able to see what J. kaniukura might need appeared like when it was alive, because of this computer simulation from Gabriel Díaz Yantén, a Chilean paleoartist and paleontology scholar at Río Negro Nationwide College.

Initially printed on Dwell Science.

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