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Unusual ‘sail-backed’ dinosaur roamed Spain 125 million years ago

A team of scientists discovered never before seen fossils of a new species of dinosaur located in Morella, Spain.

As a group, such dinosaurs are often referred to as iguanodontoids.

The “sail-backed” dinosaur species is unearthed from the rocks of ancient Spanish city Morella and has been named Morelladon beltrani. The two foot tall sail-like structure was formed by a series of bony spines protruding out the creature’s back.

The Morelladon beltrani species roamed the same landmasses at the same time with its close relatives, Iguanodon bernissartensis and Mantellisaurus atherfieldensis, which indicate a slight difference in the medium and large sized styracosternans in the Iberian landmasses 125 million years ago.

“The sail could help in heat exchange – thermoregulation – focused on releasing excess body heat into the environment, like the ears of the modern-day elephants, or as a storage place for fat to be used during periods of low food supply”, paleontologist Fernando Escaso of the National University of Distance Education’s Evolutionary Biology Group in Spain told Reuters.

‘However these functions do not exclude its display role in mating and communication.

Other sail-backed creatures lived millions of years before the dinosaurs, including a carnivorous reptile called Arizonasaurus, the amphibian Platyhystrix and distant mammal relatives Dimetrodon and Edaphosaurus.



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