New Species of Armored Dinosaur Discovered

ARGENTINA - SCIENTISTS on a dig in southern Argentina have uncovered a 5-foot-long shielded dinosaur. Called the Jakapil kaniukura, it measured 9 to 15 pounds; roughly the same as an ordinary house cat.

The miniature dinosaur's fossilized bones were excavated during a series of paleontological digs throughout the past 10 years located next to a dam in Patagonia's Rio Negro area. This region is a haven to the La Buitrera paleontological zone, a region famous for the finding of three complete Unenlagia skeletons (southern raptors), the oldest located Chelid turtles, and herbivorous crocodiles, among others, according to Popular Science.

Jakapil is a part of the Thyreophoran dinosaur unit that existed from the Jurassic period to the early Cretaceous period and whose moniker translates to “shield bearer.” This aggressive-looking bunch consisted of the spiky-tailed Stegosaurus and the armored Ankylosaurus. Similar to its thorny relatives, Jakapil had inborn physical safeguards consisting of lines of bony oval-shaped armor along its back, neck, and its tail.

The authors of the report, Facundo J. Riguetti, Sebastián Apesteguía, and Xabier Pereda-Suberbiola say, “It bears unusual anatomical features showing that several traits traditionally associated with the heavy Cretaceous thyreophorans did not occur universally, and “Jakapil also shows that early thyreophorans had a much broader geographic distribution than previously thought,” as quoted by Popular Science.

The group released their discovery in the journal,
Scientific Reports on August 11th. They initially found Jakapil's incomplete skeleton next to 15 tooth segments, which showed Jakapil's teeth were leaf-configured, similar to a modern iguana's.

Head Paleontologist Sebastián Apesteguía thinks the Jakapil find hails as a “first of its kind” breakthrough of an armored dinosaur in South America. It also matches a more natural form of thyreophoran dinosaur.
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