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ARG | Aug 11, 2022

Remains of small armour-plated dinosaur unearthed in Argentina

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Palaeontologists work on the excavation of bones and fossils that belonged to a newly discovered species of bipedal armoured dinosaur, Jakapil kaniukura, in Rio Negro, Argentina February 6, 2019. (Photo: Sebastian Apesteguia/Handout via REUTERS/File)

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters)

Palaeontologists on Thursday (August 11) heralded the discovery of a previously unknown small armoured dinosaur in southern Argentina, a creature that likely walked upright on its back legs roaming a then-steamy landscape about 100 million years ago.

The Cretaceous Period dinosaur, named Jakapil kaniukura, would have been well-protected with rows of bony disk-shaped armour along its neck and back and down to its tail, they said. It measured about 5 feet (1.5 meters) long and weighed only nine-to-15 pounds (four-to-seven kilograms), similar to an average house cat.

Its fossilised remains were dug up over the past decade near a dam in Patagonia in Rio Negro province’s La Buitrera palaeontological zone. The scientists described Jakapil in a study published in the journal Scientific Reports.

The scientists said Jakapil marks a first-of-its-kind discovery of an armoured dinosaur from the Cretaceous in South America.

Palaeontologists work on the excavation of bones and fossils that belonged to a newly discovered species of bipedal armoured dinosaur, Jakapil kaniukura, in Rio Negro, Argentina February 2, 2016. (Photo: Sebastian Apesteguia/Handout via REUTERS/File)

It is part of the thyreophoran dinosaur group that includes the likes of Stegosaurus, known for its bony back plates and spiky tail, and tank-like Ankylosaurus, covered in armour and wielding a club-like tail.

Lead palaeontologist Sebastian Apesteguia and his colleagues found a partial skeleton of Jakapil along with 15 tooth fragments featuring a leaf-like shape, similar to iguana teeth.

Jakapil resembles a primitive form of thyreophoran that lived much earlier, making it a surprise that it dated from the Cretaceous. Apesteguia said never before has such a thyreophoran been dug up anywhere in the southern hemisphere.

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