Dinosaur Tail Found is 72 Million Years Old, Experts Say

Image: Dinosaur Tail Found is 72 Million Years Old, Experts Say

Tuesday, 23 Jul 2013 12:54 PM

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The fossilized remains of a dinosaur tail found in Mexico are 72 million years old, according to a team of archaeologists who discovered the tail in a northern desert.

The country's National Institute for Anthropology and History (INAH) said Monday the 16-foot tail was the first ever found in Mexico, according to Reuters.

The team, made up of archaeologists and students from INAH and the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), identified the fossil as a hadrosaur, or duck-billed dinosaur.

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The tail, found near the small town of General Cepeda, likely made up half the dinosaur's length, said INAH Director Francisco Aguilar.

Archaeologists found the 50 vertebrae of the tail completely intact after spending 20 days in the desert slowly lifting a sedimentary rock covering the creature's bones.

Strewn around the tail were other fossilized bones, including one of the dinosaur's hips, INAH said.

Dinosaur tail finds are relatively rare, according to INAH. The new discovery could further understanding of the hadrosaur family and aid research on diseases that afflicted dinosaur bones, which resembled those of humans, Aguilar said.

Scientists have already determined that dinosaurs suffered from tumors and arthritis, for example.

Dinosaur remains have been found in many parts of the state of Coahuila, in addition to Mexico's other northern desert states.

"We have a very rich history of paleontology," Aguilar said.

He noted that during the Cretaceous period, which ended about 65 million years ago, much of what is now central northern Mexico was on the coast. This has enabled researchers to unearth remains of both marine and land-based dinosaurs.

Excavation of the remains began earlier this month; their presence was reported to INAH by locals in June 2012. The fossils will be sent to General Cepeda for further investigation and cleaning.

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