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.


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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