It took 50 years for scientists to recognize the newest species of dinosaur. By looking at its porcupine-like quills, upright stature, beak and fangs, you might understand why.
The diminutive Pegomastax africanus (“thick jaw from Africa”) was no larger than a house cat and roamed over South Africa 200 million years ago, National Geographic reported.
It could have used the fangs for defense, attracting mates or feasting on an all-vegetarian diet.
The “strange little bird” was part of the group of Heterodontosaurus that was “scampering around between the toes of other dinosaurs at the dawn of the dinosaur era,” researcher Paul Sereno told National Geographic.
Sereno’s research appeared today in the journal ZooKeys.
Sereno, a University of Chicago paleontologist, made the discovery among fossils at Harvard University collected in the 1960s, NatGeo said.
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He called it a “nimble, two-legged porcupine” at Discovery.com.
A colleague at University of Chicago, paleoartist Tyler Keillor, brought the discovery to life.
“At first, I didn’t think the model would be all that visually interesting,” Keillor told Scientific American.
“But by the time one combines a beak, tusks, cheeks, quills, and scales, it ends up being quite a frightful little beast.”
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