Newly discovered fossils have revealed the existence of the Chilesaurus, an animal which represents a strange mixture of traits common to other species of dinosaurs, though it is considered to be a close relative of the Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Researchers first uncovered the Chilesaurus fossils in 2010, according to LiveScience. They were discovered by Diego Suárez, a 7-year-old boy who spotted the dinosaur’s vertebrae while on an expedition with his family in Aysén, Chile. The new species’ full name is Chilesaurus diegosuarezi, in honor of the boy, and since he stumbled upon the first fossils, Chilean and Argentinian scientists have uncovered more than a dozen individual specimens, with the largest of those being nearly 10-feet-long.
— The Verge (@verge) April 27, 2015
Of those skeletons, four are fully intact and reveal that the Chilesaurus was a therapod – part of a group of dinosaurs that also include the Tyrannosaurs and Velociraptors. The Chilesaurus, however, is unlike other therapods, which are mostly carnivorous, in that it exhibits qualities similar to several of the other main groups of dinosaurs. The authors of a new study examining the dinosaur conclude that it appears to be a bizarre, herbivorous mixture, exhibiting the long neck of a sauropodomorph, the diet of an ornithischian, and vertebrae consistent with a theropod.
‘Bizarre’ Jurassic dinosaur discovered in remarkable new find http://t.co/mCeOQTj8x4 pic.twitter.com/YjD5TRlc4H
— allretchnovomit (@allretchnovomit) April 27, 2015
Fernando Novas, a researcher from the Bernardino Rivadavia Natural Sciences Museum in Buenos Aires, Argentina was the lead author of the study, which examined the Chilesaurus fossils, and he noted its similarities to other groups of dinosaurs.
“When I saw all the fragmented bones laying on the table, I thought all of them belonged to different dinosaur lineages,” he recalled. “That dinosaur is spectacular and bizarre because it combines different features belonging to these three main groups of dinosaurs.”
— Ciencia UNAB (@c3_unab) April 27, 2015
Novas also pointed out that no other dinosaur exhibits the combination of traits evident in the Chilesaurus. As NBC News notes, he compared the dinosaur to a mosaic floor, calling it “one of the most bizarre dinosaurs ever found.”
While exciting, the Chilesaurus isn’t the only significant prehistoric find recently announced. Earlier this month, a road crew in China made headlines worldwide when they uncovered a group of fossilized dinosaur eggs, many of which were still fully intact, as the Inquisitr previously reported.
Though the discovery is remarkable, scientists note that the Chilesaurus fossils “say something about the limits upon dinosaur evolution,” proving how little researchers currently know about the prehistoric animals.
[Image: University of Birmingham / Reuters via NBC News]