A new species of dinosaur has been found in Morocco after scientists found an “unusual” fossil believed to be at least 20 million years older than similar species previously discovered.
The part found shows a series of spines attached to the animal’s rib, which is quite unusual for Ankylosaurus, as the spines are usually attached to the skin tissue.
Ankylosaurus was a diverse group of dinosaurs possessing a type of armor related to a stegosaurus that inhabited throughout the entire period. cretaceous period, 145 to 66 million years ago.
The spines joined the rib in a fossilized part of a newly discovered species of dinosaur called Spicomellus afer.
However, there is little evidence of these dinosaurs inhabiting before this period, making the fossil in question, which dates back approximately 168 million years, the oldest example of the group ever discovered. The part was found in Middle Atlas mountain range In Morocco.
Susanna Maidment, a researcher at the Natural History Museum in London, described the new species, and named it Spicomellus afer.
Here is the Spicomellus afer rib at the London Museum of Natural History! The oldest known Ankylosaurus fossil and the first on the African continent. Look at these strange thorns!
She explained, “At first we thought the specimen could be part of a stegosaurus, after we actually found it at the same site. But after a closer look, we realized that the fossil was nothing like anything we’d seen before.”
“Ankylosaurus had spines that were usually embedded in their skin and not attached to bone,” Maidment detailed.
This discovery also challenges an earlier theory that ankylosaurus outnumbered the stegosaurus and led to its extinction.
However, the new discovery indicates that both species coexisted for more than 20 million years, which means that the extinction of the last species may have occurred for other reasons.
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