Fossils of Enigmatic Plant Eating Dinosaur Found in Chile

Posted on April 27, 2015

The fossil of a new dinosaur species has been discovered in Chile. The dinosaur is related to Tyrannosaurus rex and resembles a raptor, yet it preferred to dine on plants rather than eat meat. The fossil was found by Diego Suarez, age 7, at the Toqui Formation in Aysén, south of Chilean Patagonia. The rocks in this deposit are estimated to be about 145 million years old

Diego was in the area with his parents, Chilean geologists Manuel Suarez and Rita de la Cruz. The palaeontologists are referring to the newly discovered as the "platypus" dinosaur because of its odd combination of features. The dinosaur has been named Chilesaurus diegosuarezi. Some specimens of the herbivorous theropod are about the size of a turkey. However, it may have reached up to three meters in length based on some isolated bones the scientists found. It has a small skull and feet. It had two blunt fingers on its hands.

Martín Ezcurra, a researchers from the University of Birmingham, says in a statement, "Chilesaurus can be considered a 'platypus' dinosaur because different parts of its body resemble those of other dinosaur groups due to mosaic convergent evolution. In this process, a region or regions of an organism resemble others of unrelated species because of a similar mode of life and evolutionary pressures. Chilesaurus provides a good example of how evolution works in deep time and it is one of the most interesting cases of convergent evolution documented in the history of life."

The researchers say Chilesaurus was, by far, the most abundant dinosaur in southwest Patagonia 145 million years ago. A research paper on Chilesaurus was published here in the journal Nature.

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