New Tiny Dinosaur Species Found

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Oct. 3 2012 3:52 PM

Tiny Dinosaurs? Tiny Dinosaurs!

A new dinosaur species about the size of a house cat was recently identified from a slab of stone collected in the 1960s
A new dinosaur species about the size of a house cat was recently identified from a slab of stone collected in the 1960s

Photograph by Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images.

Tiny dinosaurs, meet the internet. Internet, meet tiny dinosaurs.

A report published Wednesday dove into the details on a new species of heterodontosaurs ("different toothed reptiles"). The herbivore was identified from a piece of rock collected in the 1960's.

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Here's how the New York Times describes the dino, named Pegomastax africanus, or “thick jaw from Africa.”

"Embedded in the rock were remains of a creature with a short parrotlike beak, one-inch jaws, sharp teeth and a skull no less than three inches long. The entire body was less than two feet in length and probably weighed less than a small house cat."

It's also possible that the new species was covered in quills, and that their fangs (rare on an herbivore) were for nipping in self-defense. Science: Please explain why it took you so long.

The Paul Sereno, the paleontologist who discovered the new dinosaur apparently identified it as a new species years ago but didn't get around to the research until recently. Here's his explanation, via the Times:

“I’m embarrassed to say how many years ago that was—1983 ... but I was an enterprising graduate student then at the American Museum of Natural History. All the while since then, I wondered if anyone else might spot the creature hiding among the lab drawers.”

As for the question on everyone's mind, Sereno told National Geographic that yes, "it would be a nice pet—if you could train it not to nip you."

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