New Dinosaur Discovered In Venezuela: 5 Fast Facts About Laquintasaura Venezuelae

Scientists have uncovered a new dinosaur species in Venezuela. © Mark Witton

Scientists have unearthed the fossils of a two-legged, fox-sized dinosaur in Venezuela. According to the researchers, the discovery of this new specimen -- which has been named Laquintasaura venezuelae -- provides evidence that dinosaurs moved around the planet after the Triassic mass extinction that eliminated almost half the species.

"Laquintasaura is known only 500,000 years after the extinction, and shows that ornithischians were quick off the mark during this recovery period,"said lead study author Paul Barrett, a vertebrate paleontologist at the Natural History Museum in London, reports the Huffington Post.

Here are five fast facts about the new dinosaur discovered:

1. The dinosaur's name, Laquintasaura venezuelae, has a very symbolic meaning. Laquintasaura means "Lizard of La Quinta" in Spanish and pays tribute to the rock formation in the Andes where the fossil was found. Meanwhile, venezuelae is a reference to the South American nation Venezuela where the fossils were discovered.

2. The Laquintasaura venezuelae was a smaller dinosaur that measured 3 feet in length and stood 1 foot in height. The dinosaur, which was an ornithischian or "bird-hipped" dinosaur, was a relative of both the Stegosaurus and Triceratops.

3. The researchers believe the Laquintasaura venezuelae was an omnivore due to the shape and size of their teeth. "The teeth are very unusual, with a tall, narrow triangular outline, tips that are slightly curved backward, coarse serrations along the margins and thin ridges that extend up and along the crown," said Barrett to LiveScience. "This combination of features is unknown in any other dinosaur. Although the triangular shape and coarse serrations suggest that plants made up most of the diet, the tall outline is reminiscent of meat-eating teeth, as are the slightly curved tips, so it is possible that Laquintasaura took small prey such as large insects some of the time."

4. According to Barrett, the Laquintasaura venezuelae lived approximately 200 million years ago during the "earliest part of the Jurassic period, a time when dinosaurs were just starting their ascent to global dominance."

5. The scientists discovered four specimens of the Laquintasaura venezuelae in Venezuela, suggesting that the species traveled in herds. This finding is significant since it suggests that dinosaurs lived in herds earlier on in their evolution than previously believed. Prior to this discovery, the belief was that only dinosaurs in the Late Jurassic period and onwards traveled and lived in herds.

Earlier this year, paleontologists announced the discovery of fossils belong to a dinosaur species that is likely to have been the largest one to roam the planet in Argentina. The new dinosaur has been named "Titanosaur" and belongs to the sauropod family. The researchers believe the plant-eating creature lived 95 million years ago in the Cretaceous Period and walked on four legs and "weighed the equivalent of more than 14 African elephants," according to the paleontologists.

“This is a true paleontological treasure,” said Jose Luis Carballido, a paleontologist at the Egidio Feruglio Museum in the southern Argentine city of Trelew, in a statement on Friday on the museum website. “There are many remains and they were practically intact, something that does not frequently happen.”

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Susmita Baral

Susmita Baral joined Latin Times in April 2013. Her work has been published in VICE, Weight Watchers Magazine, Unique Homes Magazine, US Airways Magazine, Vista Magazine, Daily Glow and Kaplan. She holds a B.A. Psychology from Rutgers University. A self-proclaimed foodie, Susmita is a freelance list maker, part-time Shaq devotee, and a full-time eyeliner junkie who believes mac and cheese is a birthright.