A new dinosaur that had a tail similar to a weapon that the Aztecs once used has been found and it is very odd. The new species, which has been named Stegouros elengassen, looked like a mix between a stegosaur and an ankylosaur.
Described as being a “very weird” dinosaur, paleontologists unearthed the remains in Chile – specifically in rocks that date back between 74.9 and 71.7 million years during the Cretaceous Period. The skeleton, which was around 80% complete, was very well preserved. In an interview with Live Science, Alexander Vargas, who is a vertebrate paleontologist in the Department of Biology at the University of Chile, described the skeleton by stating that “it’s weird, because it’s articulated [the bones are in order] from the waist down, and everything from the waist up was kind of scattered.” This may have been because it died near a river or even in quicksand but that theory hasn’t been proven yet.
What’s so unusual about the 6.5-foot-long (2 meters) ankylosaur was that it had a deadly armored tail that looked like an Aztec war club as Mr. Vargas explained, “The tail would have looked like a sword; it’s so flat,” adding that it was “a bit like an Aztec sword, or the Aztec club called the macuahuitl.” It is the shortest tail of any armored dinosaur and contained seven paired flat and big osteoderms – the first two pairs were situated near its body while the others were merged together into a deadly flat weaponized tail.
“We all know tail clubs, we all know the tail spine, but this is a new lineage … a Southern Hemisphere lineage that evolved a third kind of tail weapon,” Mr. Vargas added.
Another interesting discovery the researchers made regarding the Stegouros elengassen involved the evolution of ankylosaurs. Those living in the northern supercontinent Laurasia were very different than the ones inhabiting the southern supercontinent Gondwana (Stegouros elengassen lived in Gondwana).
Mr. Vargas detailed the Stegouros elengassen in greater detail, noting that it had a “rather large head with a narrow, curved beak, which is not common for ankylosaurs.” “It has slender limbs. … It doesn’t have pointed claws; it has rounded, hoof-like claws on both hands and feet.” Additionally, its pelvis was very similar to that of a Stegosaur. Their study was published in the journal Nature where it can be read in full.
A re-enactment of the Stegouros elengassen moving its tail and pictures of what it would have looked like can be viewed here.