June 30, 2022

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He had a gun in his tail

In February 2018, Chile encountered a small group of archaeologists in a very isolated area of ​​Patagonia. A unique challenge: In freezing weather and just five days of field work, they had to extract a block of rock from a steep hill, with some exposed fossils, presumably The exposed skeleton of a dinosaur 74 million years old.

They succeeded after much effort. The remains of the Las Sinas River Valley in Magallanes were taken to the University of Chile’s laboratory. There, while conducting the fossil work, the researchers were surprised: its tail did not resemble any dinosaur. Possession A great gun Made up of 7 pairs of osteoderms (skin bones) laterally, Fern Front-like structure, covering the middle of the tail.

Stegouros elengassen - dinosaur with armed tail

“Because of these large osteoderms, we realized that this dinosaur was not an ornithopod. It must have been an armored dinosaur. The weapon is the reason for the name of this new dinosaur Stegouros lengassen: Stegoros Meaning ‘closed tail’; When lengassen It’s the name of a mythical armored monster in the tradition of the indigenous Ionic peoples, ”explains researcher Jonathan Caluso.

Argentina, a technical archaeologist at the Azara Foundation and a scientist at Gonzalez, was the first author to study the discovery of the first armored dinosaur in South America, which is now published in the journal Nature and is the only Argentine in the group. Made by colleagues from the University of Chile and the National Antarctic Institute of Chile.

Caluso explains that this discovery is important worldwide because “armored dinosaurs are not known in South America.” He says there have only been two models so far in the Southern Hemisphere. Intriguing and fragmented. One was found in Australia and the other in Antarctica, but they were different from each other.

The dinosaur had a unique weapon in its tail.

The dinosaur had a unique weapon in its tail.

“It is not clear what this group originated in South America and how it evolved. Now, with the skeleton we see in Chile, More than 80% of your bone marrow is protected, Allowing us to speculate on how this lineage developed in South America “, he adds.

Tail gun

There is another type of weapon in the tail of a dinosaur relative found in Chile. “His brothers are from North America, Europe and Asia They have very different weapons. These usually have a pointed tail or a pointed tail. In this case, we have a special array. They create a unique weapon. In this way we can explain how this group came to be in South America. ”

They estimate that this model originated 160 million years ago in the Jurassic period and spread to South America. “It helps to know how he was and how he lived,” says the researcher.

One of the leaders of the investigation was Jonathan Caluso of Argentina.

One of the leaders of the investigation was Jonathan Caluso of Argentina.

Another important fact is that 74 million years ago (the age of the fossil found in Chile), South America, Antarctica and Australia were merged From the ground. “That’s why we can link the record of these three models. “. Caluso explains.

Fossils They found 80% of the skeleton.

Fossils They found 80% of the skeleton.


Caluso describes what happened during this discovery A training class That was giving in Chile. “It was five days before it closed. We had a very complicated climate because it was like Antarctica. I also had cracks in my ribs and had to wait until the campaign to go to the doctor was over. They were very tough and hospitable places. The accident happened. I stumbled, “he says.

Blocks with fossils must be lowered from one place to another Employees who were tired. “I had a split and another co-worker had a sprain in his leg. We worked at night with hypothermia. And the cookers circle“, Remember.

Researchers are working in the field of fossil recovery.

Researchers are working in the field of fossil recovery.

This problem forced the dinosaur to divide the existing blocks into four parts. Each weighs 200 to 300 kg. “All of this had to be unloaded by four people and carried by them,” he explains. But that effort is definitely worth it.