New Dinosaur Species With Armoured, Axe-Like Tail was Discovered in Chile

The fossils obtained from across the globe have introduced us to countless types of creatures that once lived on the planet—from the giant birds of Antarctica to the largest dinosaurs of the Americas. Whenever paleontologists dig out such remarkable well-preserved fossils of these ancient creatures, they open new possibilities for understanding the fascinating buried world. Sometimes, such findings act as an inspiration for a gripping science fiction plot.

Now, one such fossil, with the potential to feed a blockbuster script, has been unearthed. Churning our curiosity about the lost world, scientists have discovered a bizarre fossil of a unique dinosaur species that stood out with a sword in a world of giants. It’s time to meet a dinosaur species with a tail to kill: Stegouros elengassen!

Genus, stegouros comes from Greek, where stego means roof, while the other half uros translates to tail. Elengassen—the species name—means an armoured beast, derived from Aónik’enk mythology.

This remarkable creature was unlike any other dinosaur that roamed during the late Cretaceous period—between 71.7 million and 74.9 million years ago. Estimated to be just 6.5-foot-long, the creature leisurely strolled on four legs and devoured plants.

But the fearsome dinosaur donned studded skin with a deadly armoured tail to ward off predators. Its tail was its most distinct feature! Researchers claim that its flat sword-like tail is much similar to an Aztec sword or macuahuitl. Bony structures called osteoderms covered the back and sides of the beast.

From its tail, the team identified that this species belongs to the ankylosaur family of dinosaurs—renowned for sporting deadly armoured tails. They dominated parts of subantarctic Chile. In 2018, scientists obtained the well-preserved skeleton—nearly 80% complete—from the southernmost region of Chile in Magallanes Province, Patagonia.

Missing clues in the evolution of armoured Dinosaurs

So far, researchers have discovered only two such dinosaurs from this part of the region, which was once southern Gondwana. However, the specimens were incomplete to reveal anything specific. The authors believe that this bizarre fossil find can shed some light on the evolution gap of these types of dinosaurs.

The study reads: “Armoured dinosaurs are well known for their evolution of specialised tail weapons—paired tail spikes in stegosaurs and heavy tail clubs in advanced ankylosaurs. Armoured dinosaurs from southern Gondwana are rare and enigmatic but probably include the earliest branches of Ankylosauria.”

The new species is unique as it possesses a smaller body size with light armour and slender legs than the northern hemisphere’s ankylosaurs. It’s only the skull, which showcases some of the common features of the ankylosaurs family.

The tail is also unique for being the shortest among any known armoured dinosaurs. It displayed seven pairs of frond-like structures—unlike others with paired spikes or clubs on their tails.

The study suggests that possibly the breaking of the supercontinent Pangaea during the Jurassic period—between 201.3 million to 145 million years ago—could have led to changes in features of the ankylosaurs that dwelled in the northern supercontinent Laurasia and the others on the southern supercontinent Gondwana like the newly identified species.

The results of this study have been published in the journal Nature.

Check Also

Oil: Final revenues for August amount to more than $8 billion

Today, Tuesday, the Ministry of Oil announced the final statistics for the quantities of crude …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *