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New Species of Dinosaur Dating Back to Cretaceous Period Identified in Spain

Image for representation, Credits: Reuters

Image for representation, Credits: Reuters

Researchers identified that the newly-identified species roamed our planet during the Barremian stage of the Cretaceous period, which is roughly between 130 and 129 million years ago.

A team of researchers from the Universitat Jaume I, Universitat de Valencia and Grup Guix, Vila-real, have identified a new species of ‘styracosternan hadrosaurid’ dinosaur. The new genus of sharp-clawed dinosaur species was excavated at a site in Catalonia, Spain. According to Sci-News report, the dinosaur was originally found in a prehistoric graveyard site situated in Portell, Catalonia, back in 1998, but only recently has it been thoroughly studied.

The team has written a paper describing their findings, which states that the newly-identified species roamed our planet during the Barremian stage of the Cretaceous period, which is roughly between 130 and 129 million years ago. The dinosaur was approximately eight meters long and it has been classified as a member of the styracosternan ornithopod genus. The ancient creature was a herbivore, has been named ‘Portellsaurus sosbaynati.’ It was also a member of a type of iguanodon known as styracosternans, believed to have lived in what is now Spain.

After identifying the creature’s jawbone, the research team were able to make out that it was a new species due to two autopomorphic (distinctive) features. They also described it as a combination of characteristics, two of which were the absence of a bulge along a part of the bone and a deep cavity which is not seen in other species of its genus.

Andrés Santos-Cubedo of Jaume I University and his colleagues from Spain, said, “Portellsaurus sosbaynati is diagnosed by two autapomorphic features as well as a unique combination of characters.”

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The authors also mentioned that the dinosaur had multiple sharp claws, some rising from its “thumbs” and others from its “fingertips.” The research team note they would have been useful for fighting off predators, and in slicing open fruit. It also had very large nostrils, which indicated it likely had a very keen sense of smell, very beneficial in foraging. It also had an enormous tail, which would have been carried upright to maintain balance and is estimated to have weighed around 3,600 kilograms.

The researchers observe that Portellsaurus sosbaynati would have been related to other dinosaurs that have been identified as living in what is now China and Niger. They proposed the finding will shed new light on the evolution of ornithopods.

Keywords: Spain, Dinosaur, Portellsaurus sosbaynati, Universitat Jaume I, Universitat de Valencia, Grup Guix

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first published:July 14, 2021, 18:19 IST