Scientists have discovered a new species of dinosaur with “strange” bony spikes projecting from its ribs, an advance they say will fill a “significant gap in evolution.”
new species named spicomelus afer It is the oldest of a group of dinosaurs called ankylosaurs – known to have exceptional bony armor – and the first of its kind to be discovered on the African continent, according to researchers, including Susanna C.R. Madment from the National History Museum in the UK is included.
The study, published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, said the pointed ribs seen in dinosaurs that lived about 160 million years ago are also a “bizarre” feature not seen in any other vertebrate species, living or extinct.
“The specimen contained a rib with pointed dermal lobes attached to its dorsal surface, an unprecedented morphology between extinct and extant vertebrates,” the scientists wrote in the study.
While fossils of armored, herbivorous dinosaurs such as the famous Stegosaurus have been widely uncovered from northern continents, researchers say this is the first time the remains of any have been found from Africa.
Over the years, many armored dinosaurs have been unearthed, some with rows of bony plates in their skin, and which grow spikes from these bony plates, and others with a large bony club at the end of their tails.
However, the newly discovered dinosaur stands out.
Paleontologists Say It Has Protective Spikes ankylosaur Particularly strange because this feature, which lines the sides of this animal, is actually associated with the rib bones themselves.
In the research, the scientists analyzed the histological section of the fossil by making thin sections of the remains.
They found that bone structure in the fangs had a signature seen only in ankylosaurs from this period.
“When we found the fossil, we thought it was probably part of a stegosaur because we found a stegosaur in the place from which it originated. But we don’t see a stegosaur with this kind of armor,” said Dr. Madment. Explained.
Since the fossil is in fragments, scientists say it is currently impossible to tell what this mighty animal looked like and how the spikes were attached to the bone.
The researchers hope that further excavations in Morocco may reveal more information, including whether this ankylosaur species was just a one-off or early experiment during armor evolution in dinosaurs.
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