An unusual dinosaur tail found in Chile, may lead to discovery of new species
New Delhi : Chilean paleontologists on Saturday presented their findings on dinosaur discovered three years ago in Patagonia, including a very unusual tail that had stumped the researchers that time.
The remains of the Stegouros elengassen were discovered during excavations in 2018 at Cerro Guido.
"That was the main surprise," said Alexander Vargas, one of the paleontologists. "This structure is absolutely amazing."
"The tail was covered with seven pairs of osteoderms ... producing a weapon absolutely different from anything we know in any dinosaur," added the researcher during a presentation of the discovery at the University of Chile.
The osteoderms -- structures of bony plaques located in the dermal layers of the skin - were aligned on either side of the tail, making it resemble a large fern.
Paleontologists have discovered 80 percent of the dinosaur's skeleton and estimate that the animal lived in the area 71 to 74.9 million years ago. It was about two meters (almost seven feet) long, weighed 150 kilograms (330 pounds) and was a herbivore.
"We don't know why (the tail) evolved. We do know that within armored dinosaur groups there seems to be a tendency to independently develop different osteoderm-based defense mechanisms," said Sergio Soto, another member of the team.