Dinosaur that defended itself with spiny backbone found in Patagonia

BUENOS AIRES: A herbivorousdinosaurthat fended off predators with a row of spines running along its back and lived 140 million years ago has been found in Argentine Patagonia.

The discovery of the new species of dicraeosauridae, christened Bajadasaurus pronuspinax, was revealed in scientific journal Nature. Reproduction of its spiny neck was exhibited in the Cultural Science Center in Buenos Aires.

It gets its name from name fromBajada(Spanish fordownhill, in reference to the locality Bajada Colorada andsaurus(Greek, lizard. Specific epithet frompronus(Latin, bent over forward andspinax(Greek, spine, referring to the anteriorly pointed, curved, neural spines of the cervical vertebrae.

“We believe that the long and sharp spines — very long and thin — on the neck and back of Bajadasaurus and Amargasaurus cazaui (another dicraeosauridae must have been to deter possible predators,” said Pablo Gallina, an assistant researcher at the state council of scientific and technical investigations (CONICET and Maimonides University.

“We think that had they been just bare bone structures or covered only by skin, they could have been easily broken or fractured with a blow or when being attacked by other animals,” he added. “These spines must have been covered by a keratin sheath similar to what happens in the horns of many mammals.”

Source: nature.com

Skeletal reconstruction ofBajadasaurus pronuspinaxgen. et sp. nov (MMCh-PV 75, location and quarry map.(A The neck and skull reconstruction in left lateral view, showing preserved bones in white. The complete anterior cervical vertebra is located tentatively in the fifth position (see Descrion. The total count of cervical elements, as well as the relative extension of the neural spines, is based in the complete series of the related taxonAmargasaurus, the other dicraeosaurid with extremely elongated bifid neural spines along the neck. (B A map of the surrounding area of the Ezequiel Ramos Mexía lake (Neuquén Province, Argentina showing the type locality ofBajadasaurus(Bajada Colorada indicated by a white star. (C A quarry map showing the association and location of the remains in the field. at, atlas; ax, axis; cv, cervical vertebra; d, dentary; f, frontal; m, maxilla; po, postorbital; pt, pterygoid; qj, quadratojugal.

Bajadasaurus was a quadruped and part of the wider Sauropod family that lived from the late Triassic period (around 230 million years ago until the end of the late Cretaceous (70 million years ago.

Amargasaurus cazaui lived in the South American continent around 15 million years after Bajadasaurus and both species were found in the Neuquen province around 1,120 miles (1,800 kilometers south of Buenos Aires.

It’s the same zone in which Giganotosaurus carolinii, considered the biggest carnivorousdinosaurof all time, was discovered in 1993.

It lived during the late Cretaceous period and could have fed on Bajadasaurus. CONICET said in a statement the spines could have been used to regulate thedinosaur’s temperature or even to render it more sexually attractive to a potential mate.

It said Bajadasaurus could have had a fleshy hump between the spines that served a similar role to that of a camel.

The Bajadasaurus skull is the best preserved example of a dicraeosauridae ever found.

“Studies suggest this animal spent much of its time feeding on ground plants while its eye sockets, close to the top of its skull, allowed it to key an eye on what was happening around it,” said CONICET.

(With inputs from AFP