The world now knows what the Stegouros elengassen could have looked like.

Chilean paleontologists presented the results of their research on the dinosaur on Wednesday, whose skeleton was discovered almost intact three years ago in Patagonia.

It is distinguished above all by its tail which disconcerts scientists.

The dinosaur was discovered during excavations in 2018 at Cerro Guido, a site known to harbor numerous fossils, by a team believed to have before them an already known type of animal until the remains of its surprising tail appeared. .

An "absolutely amazing" tail

“That was the main surprise (…) This structure is absolutely amazing,” said Alexander Vargas, one of the paleontologists, during the presentation of the discovery at the University of Chile. “Because the tail was covered with seven pairs of osteoderms (…) producing a weapon absolutely different from anything we know for any dinosaur,” added the researcher. Osteoderms are bone plate structures located in the dermal layers of the skin. They are lined up on either side of the tail and make it look like a large fern.

“We don't know why (the tail) evolved.

We know that within armored dinosaur groups there seems to be a tendency to independently develop different defense mechanisms based on osteoderms, ”explained Sergio Soto, another member of the team.

Discovery of 80% of the skeleton

Paleontologists have discovered 80% of the dinosaur's skeleton and estimate that the animal lived in the area 71 to 74.9 million years ago.

It was about two meters long, weighed 150 kg and was herbivorous.

According to the scientists, who published their research in the specialized journal

Nature

, it could represent a hitherto unknown lineage of an armored dinosaur never seen in the southern hemisphere but already identified in the north of the continent.

The Cerro Guido area, in the Las Chinas valley 3,000 km south of Santiago, stretches for 15 km.

Various rock formations outcrop there, which contain many fossils.

It is "a kind of book that allows us to understand the successions of flora and fauna in this place", explain the paleontologists.

It also allowed them to discover that present-day America and Antarctica were close millions of years ago.

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  • Chile

  • Scientists

  • Dinosaur

  • Paleontology

  • Science

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