First-of-its-kind armored dinosaur discovered - and it’s only as big as a house cat

The Cretaceous period dinosaur would have been well-protected with rows of bony disc-shaped armor along its neck, back, and down to its tail.
Baba Tamim
Jakapil kaniukura dinosaur
Holotype of Jakapil kaniukura's postcranial bones.

Nature  

  • Similar to an average house cat, it measured about 1.5 meters long and weighed only 9 to 15 lbs.
  • The dinosaur likely walked a steamy landscape about 100 million years ago.
  • Most fossils were found between beds of migrating dunes.

Scientists have discovered the remains of a small armored dinosaur.

Paleontologists announced the discovery of a previously unknown small armored dinosaur in southern Argentina, according to a report by The Guardian.

Jakapil Kaniukura, the Cretaceous period dinosaur, would have been well-protected with rows of bony disc-shaped armor along its neck, back, and tail.

The cretaceous Period is a geologic time that began 145 million years ago and ended 66 million years ago.

"Jakapil marked a first-of-its-kind discovery of an armored dinosaur from the Cretaceous in South America," said Sebastián Apesteguía, the Lead paleontologist of the discovery.

Similar to an average house cat, it measured about 5 feet (1.5 meters) long and weighed only 9 to 15 lbs (4-7kg).

The dinosaur likely walked upright on its back legs through a steamy landscape about 100 million years ago.

The fossilized remains were discovered near a dam in Patagonia's Ro Negro province's La Buitrera palaeontological zone (LBPA) over the last decade.

Sebastián Apestegua and his colleagues uncovered a partial Jakapil skeleton, as well as 15 tooth fragments with a leaf-like shape, similar to iguana teeth.

Jakapil resembled a primitive form of thyreophoran that lived much earlier, making its Cretaceous age surprising.

"Never before had such a thyreophoran been dug up anywhere in the southern hemisphere," Apesteguía said.

The report noted that most fossils in the LBPA were found between beds of migrating dunes.

The remains were found disarticulated and with a slight southwestern-northeastern orientation due to dune transport.

Jakapil means "shield bearer" in the nomadic Argentinian language. And Kaniukura means "crest stone." It is a genus of basal thyreophoran dinosaur.

Jakapil's discovery was first published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Thyreophorans dinosaurs

Thyreophorans are distinguished by the presence of body armor arranged in longitudinal rows along their bodies.

Primitive forms possessed simple, low, keeled scutes or osteoderms, whereas more derived forms possessed more elaborate structures such as spikes and plates.

Most thyreophorans were herbivorous and had tiny brains in comparison to their body size.

Thyreophora is divided into several suborders, including Ankylosauria and Stegosauria.

Forelimbs were much shorter than hindlimbs in both suborders of stegosaurs.

The clade (branch) has been defined as all species that are more closely related to Ankylosaurus than to Triceratops.

Thyreophora is Cerapoda's sister group within Genasauria, a clade of extinct beaked, primarily herbivorous dinosaurs.

Earlier discovery

In June, Argentina scientists discovered the giant dinosaur 'Meraxes,' Deutsche Welle reported.

The carnivorous dinosaur discovered had a massive head and tiny arms.

Meraxes gigas, named after a dragon in the Game of Thrones books, was uncovered during four years of fieldwork in Argentina's northern Patagonia. The skull was discovered in 2012.

The fossilized remains of the dinosaur were well preserved, with the skeleton measuring 36 feet (11 meters) long. At 127 centimeters, the skull alone was more than four feet long.

Meraxes gigas would have eaten sauropod dinosaurs, which had long tails, necks, and small heads. At the excavation site, some sauropod remains were also discovered.

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