'Frankenstein Dinosaur' Emerges As Missing Link In Dino Evolution

That's based on a new analysis of the Chilesaurus dinosaur - first identified in 2015 from a fossil find in Chile, it's intrigued researchers ever since with its odd mix of physical characteristics. Their results, reported in the journal Biology Letters, suggest that Chilesaurus effectively fills a large gap between two of the major dinosaur groups, and shows how the divide between them may have happened.

"Chilesaurus nearly looks like it was stitched together from different animals, which is why it baffled everybody", Matthew Baron, a postdoctoral student at the University of Cambridge and the paper's joint first author, told Newsweek magazine.

Like the theropod dinosaur T. rex, Chilesaurus stood upright, with strong hind legs and shorter front limbs. Will soon change all family tree of the dinosaurs, which scientists have not changed for about 130 years.

Chilesaurus lived at the end of the Jurassic Period, approximately 145 million years ago.

Scientists have solved the puzzle of the so-called "Frankenstein dinosaur", which seems to consist of body parts from unrelated species. For instance, its head looks like that of a carnivore, but instead of sharp teeth it had the flat teeth that are typically used to chew plants.

Researchers say their findings will also help them better understand the origins of a group of dinosaurs known as Ornithischia.

And now scientists have decided that it in fact belongs to its own group, the ornithischia, and that it was a relative of famous plant-eating dinosaurs like the Stegosaurus and Iguanadon.

The study was published August 15 in the journal Biology Letters.

Thanks to the opening becomes clearer the evolution of the detachment of dinosaurs called bird-hipped.

Chilesaurus shares the bird-hip characteristics of an inverted, bird-like hip structure but does not have the distinctive beak of many other bird-hipped dinosaurs.

"We didn't know what order these characteristics evolved in", Baron said in a Cambridge news release. "This shows that in bird-hipped dinosaurs, the gut evolved first, and the jaws evolved later - it fills the gap quite nicely". Back in March, however, a study indicated that they were more closely related to meat-eating dinosaurs than previously believed.

"There was a split in the dinosaur family tree, and the two branches took different evolutionary directions", says one of the team, Matthew Baron from the University of Cambridge.

"Chilesaurus initially looked like an earlier offshoot of the theropod line, but it seemed suspicious that it had all these adaptations for eating plants", Barrett told AFP.

Earlier this year, the same group of researchers argued that dinosaur family groupings need to be rearranged, re-defined and re-named.

Researchers even then admitted at the time it was an unusual fit, calling the Chilesaurus "the most weird dinosaur ever found", AFP stated.

Vanessa Coleman

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