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Newly Discovered Armored Dinosaur Species Found in Argentina

What's happening

A new species of dinosaur, thought to be related to armored dinosaurs like the Stegosaurus, has been discovered in Argentina.

Why it matters

This new insight into the time of the dinosaurs suggests some species had a "much broader geographic" reach than previously known.

A team of paleontologists has discovered the remains of a previously unknown dinosaur species in Argentina, as reported Sunday by Science Alert. The researchers predict this dinosaur came from the Cretaceous period, the last era of dinosaurs, and it roamed the Earth between 97 million and 94 million years ago.

In the scientific report published last week, the paleontologists said that these remains could represent an entire lineage of armored dinosaur species in the Southern Hemisphere previously unknown to science.

The newly discovered species, Jakapil kaniukura, is thought to be related to thyreophoran species -- armored dinosaurs like the Stegosaurus and the Ankylosaurus -- due to the rows of bony disk-shaped armor along the dinosaur's neck, back and tail. 

A computer rendering of what the Jakapil kaniukura might have looked like. 

Gabriel Díaz Yantén

While early in their research, the team has made several findings: The species is said to be bipedal and tiny, about 5 feet long and the weight of a house cat. The dinosaur is also said to be an herbivore with leaf-shaped teeth similar to those of its Stegosaurus relative. 

The remains were discovered in the Río Negro province in northern Patagonia by a team of international paleontologists at the Félix de Azara Natural History Foundation in Argentina. Lead paleontologists wrote in the report that these remains represent the "first definitive thyreophoran species from the Argentinian Patagonia" and show "that early thyreophorans had a much broader geographic distribution than previously thought."

A computer simulation (below) of what the Jakapil kaniukura might have looked like was created by Gabriel Díaz Yantén, a Chilean paleoartist and paleontology student at Río Negro National University.