A 7-year-old boy discovered one of the most unique dinosaur fossils of all time on a trip to the mountains of Chile 11 years ago, and this year scientists have fully excavated it, declaring it one of the most unique and fascinating creatures of the era.
"Chilesaurus constitutes one of the most bizarre dinosaurs ever found," said paleontologist Fernando Novas of the Bernardino Rivadavia Natural Sciences Museum in Buenos Aires, Reuters reported
Calling it a "jigsaw puzzle" of a dinosaur Novas said, "The skeletal anatomy of Chilesaurus gathers characteristics of different dinosaur groups, like a floor is composed of mosaics of different shapes and colors. No other dinosaurs exhibit such a combination or mixture of features."
Chilesaurus is a theropod, a smaller cousin of the Tyrannosaurus rex. Unlike T. rex, however, it sported a beak and only ate plants. I also had a bird-like pelvis, and had four-toes on each foot — unlike most theropods who had three. Most of the fossils, which date back to the end of the Jurassic Period — approximately 145 million years ago — were the size of large turkeys, however some could grow up to 10 feet in length.
The saga of "Chilesaurus diegosuarezi" began in 2004, when Diego Suarez was on a trip to the Andes Mountains with his archeologist parents.
"Out of nowhere, two small things appeared. … They were fossils," Suarez recently related in an email with USA Today
. He showed the fossils to his parents, who recognized their unique qualities, and sent them to other scientists in Argentina to be indentified.
"You [can] imagine it was, to them, like winning the lottery," Suarez explained.
For years, archeologists who looked at the fossil set thought that the fossils must belong to more than one dinosaur. After several more excavations of the dig site, they slowly discovered, however, that they belonged to one strange creature.
"This new animal combined features belonging to three different lineages" of dinosaurs, says Novas. "It was so shocking."
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