Scientists have discovered the fossils of a new and oldest ankylosaur species known so far which has a first-of-kind defensive spiked armor fused to the skeleton. This visual of dinosaur spikes fossil dazed experts to think it is fake or something? These fossils of new species of ‘ankylosaur’ have been found in the Boulahfa site in the Middle Atlas Mountains in Morocco.
According to details published in Nature Ecology and Evolution, when researchers found this fossil, they regarded it as of stegosaur species which was identified from the same region in 2019, but on microscopic analysis, distinctive patterns of fibers are resembling the oldest group of dinosaurs called ankylosaurs.
Ankylosaurs dinosaurs are known for their armor on their backs (not attached to the bones) and their tails equipped with armored balls. They can grow to 7m long and weigh four tonnes and are mostly known from US and Canadian fossils dating from 74 to 67million years ago. So, they named this species Spicomellus afer where spicomellus means collar of spikes and afer means Africa.
Researchers and Susannah Maidment, a paleontologist at the Natural History Museum in London, say spiked dinosaurs are extraordinary as they are the first to have defensive spikes fused with the ribs which are not seen in any other vertebrate or extinct species.
At first, researchers thought that the fossil are fake but on further inspection using a CT scanner, there are no signs of tampering or construction which means they are authentic.
“It’s totally, totally weird,” said Dr Susannah Maidment, a paleontologist at the Natural History Museum in London, reports The Gurdian. “Normally when we see armour in stegosaurus and ankylosaurs, the dermal armour is embedded in the skin, not attached to the skeleton. In this case, it’s not only in contact with the skeleton, it’s fused to the ribs.”
And these fossils are from the middle Jurassic, nearly about 168 million years ago which was one of the oldest ankylosaurs on Earth so far, and the first to be found in Africa. Susannah Maidment said that the from this species other would have evolved or an entirely new lineage.
However, this new species is peculiar. And the fossils are in fragments it is difficult to tell how mighty this species would be.
For now, the spiked dinosaur fossils are now at the Natural History Museum where more researchers will do a study on them. And Susannah Maidment said that they will do more work with collectors in Morocco and colleagues at the University of Fez, so they can find detailed information on fossils and establish a specialized laboratory for future finds that can be studied in Morocco.
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