British scientists say the Chilesaurus, dubbed the ”Frankenstein dinosaur”, is the missing link between plant-eating dinosaurs, like Stegosaurus, and carnivorous dinosaurs, such as Tyrannosaurus rex. Jim Drury reports.
It was dubbed the “Frankenstein dinosaur” when unveiled to the public in 2014. The fossilised remains of Chilesaurus were found ten years earlier in the Andes. Its physical characteristics confused paleantologists. SOUNDBITE (English) STUDY CO-AUTHOR PROFESSOR PAUL BARRETT FROM LONDON’S NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM, SAYING: “Even in combination with some of the more bizarre looking dinosaurs that we all know about, like Stegosaurus with its amazing plates, Chilesaurus is a complete oddball. It really combines features in a way that’s unprecedented among dinosaurs.” But a new study suggests it’s the missing link between plant-eating and carnivorous dinosaurs. SOUNDBITE (English) STUDY CO-AUTHOR PROFESSOR PAUL BARRETT FROM LONDON’S NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM, SAYING: “I think the discovery of Chilesaurus by my Argentinean colleagues is one of the most interesting dinosaur discoveries probably of the last 50, maybe even 100, years. When they named it, because of this unusual combination of features, they struggled to classify it within the dinosaur family tree and tried various different positions. With the information they had available at the time it seemed most likely that Chilesaurus was a member of the meat-eating dinosaur group called the theropods. But our new work using a bigger dataset, with lots of different dinosaurs in it, tends to pull it into another dinosaur group called the ornithischians.” Published in Nature, the study could lead to the reconfiguration of the 130-year-old dinosaur family tree. Chilesaurus lived around 145 million years ago at the end of the Jurassic Period.