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New Species of Stegosaurus Which Lived 168 Million Years Ago Discovered in Moroccan Mountains

The 'Adratiklit boulahfa', meaning the 'mountain lizard' in Berber language, has been immortalised in countless films.

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Updated:August 21, 2019, 5:10 PM IST
New Species of Stegosaurus Which Lived 168 Million Years Ago Discovered in Moroccan Mountains
Image credit: AFP

A team of scientists have found a brand new species of the iconic Stegosaurus. One of the most well-known dinosaurs to have ever walked the Earth thanks to the bony plates protruding out of their spines and tails.

Notably, they have been immortalised in numerous movie adaptations including the iconic Jurassic Park franchisee.

According to a story published in Daily Mail, a team from the Natural History Museum found the animal in the Moroccan mountains and dubbed it "Adratiklit boulahfa", meaning the 'mountain lizard' in Berber language.

According to the scientists, it is most likely that the Adratiklit boulahfa walked the Earth 168 million years ago, much earlier than other known Stegosauruses and only a handful of fossilised bones remain.

Despite the specimen including only a few vertebrae and an upper arm bone, scientists concluded that it was a new species and genus which dates to the middle Jurassic period.

Speaking about the discovery, lead scientist Dr Susannah Maidment, named it Adratiklit boulahfa as a reference to the locality in the Middle Atlas Mountains of Morocco where the specimen was found.

She further added that most known stegosaur date further down in the Jurassic period making this discovery the oldest definitive stegosaur find. She added that it will help increase understanding of the evolution of the stegosaur.

Notably, the specimen is the first stegosaur, a thyreophoran dinosaur, to be found in North Africa. Thus, even though according to scientists when the earth was divided into two supercontinents, thyreophorans were more common and diverse in Laurasia, rather than Gondwana, the new find could change such perceptions.

According to Dr Maidment, while most stegosaurs were found in Laurasian rock formations, it does not mean that they were not common in Gondwana. It could just be that Gondwana rock formations have been subject to far fewer excavations and detailed studies.

The team concluded that discovery adds to the theory the Gondwanan fossil record of armoured dinosaurs is significantly biased by geological factors and collection efforts and that there could be far more thyreophoran dinosaurs to find in places that until now have not been excavated.

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