A pointed fossil of a new species of ankylosaurus was found in Morocco. A 165-million-year-old fossil rib with long spikes protruding from it was studied at the University of Birmingham. The research results are published by the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.
An unusual fossil with thorns, found at the Bulahfa site in the mountains of the Middle Atlas in Morocco, has been identified as the remains of a new dinosaur species – the African ankylosaurus. According to scientists, the fossilized rib is at least 20 million years older than other specimens of this species. Also, the researchers noted the “strange” shape of the bone.
Ankylosaurus were herbivorous dinosaurs known for their armored tank-like bodies and club-shaped tail tips.
Paleontologist Suzanne Maidment, a researcher at the Museum of Natural History, stated that the existing fossils of ankylosaurus date from the Cretaceous period (145.5 and 65.5 million years ago). However, the new bone is about 165 million years old, which means that it belongs to the Jurassic era. This discrepancy surprised scientists.
“Ankylosaurus are well known from the Cretaceous, especially from North America and Asia, but the fossil is completely different from anything we’ve seen. This is a new species of ankylosaurus, much older than any other individual. And he also has a very, very strange morphology, – emphasizes the paleontologist. “This fossil is about 165 million years old and is from the Middle Jurassic. We do not have any evidence for the existence of ankylosaurs during this time period. ”
Ankylosaurus are characterized by a series of bony plates and spines embedded in the skin. However, the new fossil – the first from the African continent – features long spines directly attached to the bone. Scientists have called this morphology, as a minimum, strange.
“We have not seen anything like this in any other vertebrae we know, living or dead,” concludes paleontologist Suzanne Maidment.