Scientists discovered a new species of dinosaur fossil in Chile, according to a study published by Science Advances journal. The study showed that the dinosaur species lived in southern Chile about 72 million years ago. The dinosaurs inhabited the Magallanes, in the subantarctic region in Chile.
Scientists found fossils of a new species of duck-billed dinosaur. The scientists named it “Gonkoken nanoi.” The herbivore species weighed close to a ton and could grow to four meters in length.
The Gonkoken nanoi lived in the subantarctic region during the early Maastrichtian age in Magallanes, Chile.
The Hadrosauridae is the advanced duck-billed dinosaur species that dispersed across Africa, South America, and, allegedly, Antarctica, when Laurasia existed. Laurasia was a supercontinent, which included the modern day continents of North America, Europe and Asia, before it began to break apart about 200 million years ago.
Towards the end of the Mesozoic Era, about 252 to 66 million years ago, the Hadrosauridae were so dominant that they outcompeted other herbivores and caused a decline in other dinosaur species.
Gonkoken nanoi descended from North American forms, which diverged shortly before the origin of Hadrosauridae. The scientists proposed that the ancestors of Gonkoken nanoi arrived in South America and roamed further south, into regions where hadrosaurids never arrived.
The discovery of Gonkoken nanoi calls for a reinterpretation of partial duckbill fossils found in southern Patagonia and Antarctica.
“Partial remains in these regions can no longer be assumed a priori to belong to hadrosaurids like those of central and northern Patagonia: none of these remains show characters that are exclusive to Hadrosauridae, especially when we take into account the hadrosaurid-like features of Gonkoken,” the study stated.
The words “gon” and “koken” (wild duck or swan) are in the language of the Aónik’enk, the indigenous people who inhabited the region where this species was found, according to the study. And the name “nanoi” is a homage to Mario “Nano” Ulloa, who first found dinosaur bones at Río de las Chinas Valley in Chilean Antarctica and provided key logistic help during the scientists’ expeditions.
Chongyang Zhang is pursuing an Erasmus Mundus Joint Master’s program in journalism, media and globalisation. His interest lies in the relations among the United States, Latin America and China. He is currently doing an exchange semester at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile.