A strange type of dinosaur found in Southern Chile is puzzling paleontologists from all over the world, who describe it as “one of the most bizarre dinosaurs ever found.”
The unusual creature, named “Chilesaurus diegosuarezi,” belongs to the same dinosaur group as Tyrannosaurus rex – theropods – and was a plant-eater.
"The most interesting (aspect) about Chilesaurus is the story that it tells about how evolution works," paleontologist Fernando Novas of the Bernardino Rivadavia Natural Sciences Museum in Buenos Aires, told Reuters.
"The skeletal anatomy of Chilesaurus gathers characteristics of different dinosaur groups, like a floor is composed of mosaics of different shapes and colors. No other dinosaurs exhibit such a combination or mixture of features," he added.
News of the new dino came Monday in a paper posted by the journal Nature. It was relatively small, up to 10.5 feet at the most, and was discovered in the Aysén region of southern Chile.
The Chilesaurus diegosuarezim was named after the 7-year-old boy who first spotted the fossils, Diego Suarez.
“The site yielded abundant and exquisitely preserved three-dimensional skeletons of small archosaurs,” the journal said.
The long-necked dinosaur was bipedal and had robust arms, but just two blunt fingers on each hand. Its pelvis resembled that of a bird, researchers say.
University of Birmingham paleontologist Martín Ezcurra said it belongs to a previously unknown dinosaur lineage and it may incarnate the so-called “convergent evolution.”
“Convergent evolution is a process in which two unrelated species or groups acquire similar characteristics from living in similar environments or having a similar behavior," he told Reuters.
The Chilesaurus diegosuarezi is the first known herbivorous theropod in the Southern Hemisphere.