” At initially we thought the specimen could be part of a stegosaur, having actually formerly found them at tthe very same area. But on closer evaluation, we realized the fossil differed from anything we had ever seen.”
Ankylosaurs, such as this Euoplocephalus, were herbivorous dinosaurs with armoured plates covering their backs. Credit: N. Tamura/Wikimedia Commons
If it could be a phony, the specimen is so uncommon that at initially the scientists wondered. CT scanning showed it to be the genuine offer, and a random sample from the base of the specimen showed a cross hatch pattern in the bone distinct to ankylosaurs, exposing its identity.
Dr. Maidment continues: “Ankylosaurs had armored spikes that are generally embedded in their skin and not fused to bone. In this specimen we see a series of spikes connected to the rib, which need to have extended above the skin covered by a layer of something like keratin.”
” It is entirely extraordinary and unlike anything else in the animal kingdom.”
The cross-section of the rib reveals a t-shape, which is distinctive to stegosaurs and ankylosaurs. Credit: The Natural History Museum
The ankylosaurs were a varied group of armored dinosaurs related to the better-known stegosaurs. They existed throughout the Cretaceous period however there is little evidence of them before then, making this new fossil not only the very first found in Africa however likewise the earliest example of the group ever found.
The new discovery dates from the Middle Jurassic duration around 168 million years ago. It has helped to fill an important gap in our knowledge of dinosaur advancement, and suggests that ankylosaurs may have had an international circulation.
The discovery also casts doubt on a previous theory that ankylosaurs outcompeted stegosaurs and resulted in their termination. This brand-new discover, however, suggests the 2 groups co-existed for over 20 million years, and implies the extinction of the stegosaurs may have occurred for other factors.
The histological sectioning of the bone revealed that the spikes had a tissue type only seen in ankylosaurs during the period the animal lived. Credit: The Natural History Museum
The fossil that caused the description of this brand-new types is now part of the Natural History Museums collections and will be the subject of ongoing research study.
Dr. Maidment concludes: “Morocco seems to hold some genuine gems in terms of dinosaur discoveries. In just this one website we have explained both the oldest stegosaur and the oldest ankylosaur ever found.
” When circumstances enable, we hope to work and return with our colleagues at the University of Fez to help them to establish a vertebrate paleontology laboratory so that more finds can be studied in Morocco.”
The research study Bizarre dermal armour recommends the first African ankylosaur is published in the journal Nature Ecology & & Evolution
. Referral: “Bizarre dermal armour recommends the first African ankylosaur” by Susannah C. R. Maidment, Sarah J. Strachan, Driss Ouarhache, Torsten M. Scheyer, Emily E. Brown, Vincent Fernandez, Zerina Johanson, Thomas J. Raven and Paul M. Barrett, 23 September 2021, Nature Ecology & & Evolution.DOI: 10.1038/ s41559-021-01553-6.
The rib bone is unusual. The animals armour plate is fused to the surface of the bone. Credit: The Natural History Museum
An uncommon fossil showing a series of spikes fused to a rib has been exposed to be the remains of the earliest ankylosaur ever discovered and the very first from the African continent.
The exciting discovery was made in the Middle Atlas Mountains of Morocco at the exact same site where scientists from the Natural History Museum (NHM) previously discovered the oldest stegosaur ever found.
Dr. Susannah Maidment, a scientist at the NHM and honorary senior speaker at the University of Birmingham, described the new types and named it Spicomellus afer: Spicomellus significance collar of spikes and afer significance of Africa.