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This dinosaur fossil found in Chile has a tail like a sword

Published Dec 8th, 2021 11:42AM EST
Dinosaur Fossils
Image: piyaphunjun/Adobe

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Discoveries of new dinosaur fossils show just how dangerous the lives of Earth’s early creatures were. These discoveries also show us how early creatures evolved to protect themselves from predators.

Enter Stegouros elengassen, a new genus of dinosaurs discovered in a dig down in Chile. The new dino appears to share some similarities with the ankylosaurs family, but it has one distinct difference. Notably, its tail looks more like an armored sword, than the armored clubs found on most ankylosaurs.

New dinosaur fossil with sword-like armored tail discovered

The number of fossils found around the world is stunning. The study of these fossils has brought a lot of understanding to how the Earth was during that time, and how the dinosaurs lived. Despite all that we’ve learned, there’s still a lot about the dinosaurs that we don’t know. Including different species and genus, which we’ve yet to uncover. Despite being a new specimen, researchers believe that the Stegouros elengassen belongs to the ankylosaur family.

Researchers named the dinosaur based on the makeup of its body. Stegouros comes from a combination of the Greek words stego and uros. Stego translates roughly to roof, while uros means tail. The second part of the name, elengassen, means armored beast. That term is derived from Aónik’enk mythology, according to The Weather Channel.

The researchers believe the Stegouros elengassen lived during the late Cretaceous period, somewhere between 71.7 million and 74.9 million years ago. Researchers estimate the creature was around 6.5-foot-long, and that it was an herbivore.

An evolutionary conundrum

The team of researchers first discovered the dinosaur fossils for the Stegouros elengassen in 2018 in the Magallanes Province, Patagonia, in Chile. They found that the skeleton was roughly 80 percent complete. Previously researchers had only discovered two other specimens in this region. However, those fossil sets were too incomplete to shed and specific light on their genus. Researchers believe that these dinosaur fossils could shed some new light into the evolution gap of these armored dinosaurs.

A study on the fossils, which was published in the journal Nature, suggests that the breaking of Pangaea during the Jurassic period could account for the changes between the Ankylosaurus and the Stegouros elengassen. The body is much smaller than other dinosaurs in the ankylosaurs family. Additionally, the armor found on its body is lighter, too.

The study also notes that armored dinosaurs found in the southern Gondwana region are “rare and enigmatic”. That includes the area where this new fossil was discovered

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.