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

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Fossils of a small, prickly dinosaur not too long ago found in South America might characterize a whole lineage of armored dinosaurs beforehand unknown to science. 

The newly found species, Jakapil kaniukura, seems 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. Meaning 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 working 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 tooth just 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 chew. It in all probability would have been capable of 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 referred to as Thyreophora. Most thyreophorans are identified 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 much 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 historic lineage of thyreophorans survived all the best way into the Late Cretaceous in South America, they added. Within the Northern Hemisphere, these older forms of thyreophorans appear to have gone extinct by the Center Jurassic. On the southern supercontinent Gondwana, nevertheless, they apparently survived nicely 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.)  

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

You possibly can see what J. kaniukura may need appeared like when it was alive, due to this computer simulation from Gabriel Díaz Yantén, a Chilean paleoartist and paleontology pupil at Río Negro Nationwide College.

Initially revealed on Reside Science.

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