The fossils of a small, spiny dinosaur recently discovered in South America may represent an entire line of armored dinosaurs previously unknown to science.
The newly discovered species, Jakapil Kaniukuralooks like a primitive relative of armored dinosaurs like Ankylosaurus or Stegosaurusbut it comes from the Cretaceous, the last era of the dinosaurs, and lived between 97 million and 94 million years ago.
This means that an entire lineage of armored dinosaurs lived in the Southern Hemisphere but went completely unnoticed until now, paleontologists report in a new study.
J. Kaniukura weighed about as much as a domestic cat and had a row of defensive spines running from neck to tail and probably grew to about 5 feet (1.5 meters) long. It was a herbivore, with leaf-shaped teeth similar to those of Stegosaurus.
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Paleontologists from the Félix de Azarra Natural History Foundation in Argentina discovered a partial skeleton of a young adult child J. Kaniukura in the province of Rio Negro in northern Patagonia.
The dinosaur probably walked upright and had a short beak capable of delivering a powerful bite. It could probably eat tough, woody vegetation, researchers reported Thursday (Aug. 11) in the journal Scientific reports.
The new dinosaur joins Stegosaurus, ankylosaurus, and other armored dinosaurs in a group called Thyreophora.
Most thyrophorans are known from the Northern Hemisphere, and fossils of the earliest members of this group are found primarily in Jurassic rocks from North America and Europe from about 201 million years ago to 163 million years ago.
Opening of J. Kaniukura “shows that early thyrophorans had a much wider geographic distribution than previously thought,” paleontologists from the Félix de Azarra Facundo J. Natural History Foundation wrote in the new paper. Righetti and Sebastian Apestgia and the paleontologist from the University of País Vasco Javier Pereda-Suberbiola.
It was also surprising that this ancient thyrophoran lineage survived until the Late Cretaceous in South America, they added.
In the Northern Hemisphere, these older species of thyrophorans appear to have disappeared during the Middle Jurassic.
On the southern supercontinent Gondwana, however, they apparently survived well into the Cretaceous period. (Later thyrophores survive longer. Ankylosaurusfor example, went extinct along with the other non-avian dinosaurs 66 million years ago.)
The name “Jakapil” comes from a word meaning “shield bearer” in the local Puelchean or northern Tehuelchean language of Argentina. “Kanikura” comes from the local Mapudungun language.
You can see what J. Kaniukura he could look like that when he was alive thanks to that computer simulation by Gabriel Díaz Yanten, Chilean paleoartist and paleontology student at the National University of Rio Negro.
• Jakapil Kanyukura •
here is the first Thyreophore from Argentine Patagonia
Such an honor worked with Sebastian Apesteguia, Facundo Righetti and Mauricio Alvarez to achieve this reconstruction.#blender #blendercommunity #paleoart #paleontology #Yakapil #Argentina pic.twitter.com/Hf4ZphlWsH
– PaleoGDY (@PaleoGDY) August 11, 2022
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This article was originally published by Live Science. Read the original article here.