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Meet T-rex’s Vegetarian Cousin, Chilesaurus diegosuarezi

posted: 04/27/15
by: Discovery.com Staff
Chilesaurus diegosuarezi
Gabriel Lio

Every family has a member that marches to the beat of their own drum, and the Tyrannosaurus family is no exception! Chilesaurus diegosuarezias, a newly discovered relative of the notorious meat eater, is the first vegetarian theropod to be discovered in the southern hemisphere.

Researchers are calling Chilesaurus a "platypus dinosaur" due to its piecemeal collection of evolutionary characteristics that resemble several different groups of dinosaurs, a phenomenon known as "evolutionary convergence". While Chilesaurus sports Tyrannosaurs rex-like hands, its feet and teeth are more similar to those belonging to other primitive long-neck dinosaurs.

"In this process, a region or regions of an organism resemble others of unrelated species because of a similar mode of life and evolutionary pressures. Chilesaurus provides a good example of how evolution works in deep time and it is one of the most interesting cases of convergent evolution documented in the history of life," noted University of Birmingham's researcher Martin Ezcurra.

Chilesaurus diegosuarezias' name pays homage both to its country of origin, Chile, and its discoverer, 7-year-old Diego Suarez. He discovered the 145 million-year-old fossil at the Toqui Formation in Chilean Patagonia. Since Suarez's initial find, four more complete Chilesaurus specimens have been unearthed.

Click here for more information from University of Birmingham

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