Scientists Discover New Dinosaur Species With Weird 'Sail' On Its Back

Posted: Dec 17 2015, 2:39am CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
Scientists Discover New Dinosaur Species with Weird 'Sail' on its Back
Illustration of Morelladon beltrani. Credit: Carlos de Miguel Chaves

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New sail-backed dinosaur species lived 125 million years ago in Spain

Scientists have just discovered a new distinctive species of dinosaur that has a mysterious ‘sail’ on its back.

The ‘sail-backed’ dinosaur species is unearthed from the rocks of ancient Spanish city Morella and has been named Morelladon beltrani. The name constitutes of Morella, the city where the species was discovered, ‘odon’, Greek word for ‘tooth’ and collaborator Victor Beltran who assisted at dig sites.

The dinosaur species lived around 125 million years ago in Early Cretaceous of Europe, an era marked with multiple, highly diverse iguanodontians dinosaurs and many of them co-existed in same ecosystem.

“We knew that dinosaur fauna from Morella was similar to those of other contemporary European sites. However, this discovery shows an interesting rise of iguanodontoid diversity in southern Europe.” Co-author Dr. Fernando Escaso said.

The new dinosaur species is estimated at 20 feet long from head to tail and around 8 feet long in height, making it similar to its relative Mantellisaurus atherfieldensis in terms of both height and weight.

The remains of the dinosaur comprise of tall dorsal spines, pelvic bones and bones from top of vertebrae, pointing to the fact that this dinosaur species had a weird sail on its back. Why this dinosaur species had sail on their backs, it’s still bit of mystery of paleontologists. They could have been use it for identification purposes, signaling each other for help or even use them like the camels do, storing fat for covering long distances or to cope with shortage of food.

The study was published in PLOS One.

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