A rare 110 million-year-old “toothless dinosaur” discovered in Australia

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Have you ever watched “How to Train Your Dragon”? Well, let’s take a fascinating detour from dragons and delve into the world of a real-life “toothless” dinosaur species that roamed Australia 110 million years ago.

Paleontologists in Australia have unearthed the fossil of a rare and diminutive toothless dinosaur known as Elaphrosaur. This ancient creature, standing at roughly the height of a small emu, measured about 2 meters from head to the tip of its lengthy tail. It sported short arms, each adorned with four fingers.

Dr. Stephen Poropat, a paleontologist from the Swinburne University of Technology, led the team that identified this unique dinosaur. Elaphrosaurs were distinguished by their long beaks, stumpy arms, and diminutive hands, and they likely did not have a taste for meat.

According to a statement from the Swinburne University of Technology, this dinosaur once roamed Australia approximately 110 million years ago. The rare fossil was initially discovered in 2015 by Jessica Parker, a volunteer excavator, at Cape Otway in Victoria, Australia. Its identification was carried out by Dr. Stephen Poropat’s team.

Reports indicate that the fossil includes a 5-centimeter-long vertebrae or an elongated beak-like head that belonged to the Elaphrosaur, which translates to “light-legged lizard.” Interestingly, this fossil is believed to be related to the fearsome Tyrannosaurus Rex and the nimble Velociraptor.

Dr. Poropat suggests that this particular dinosaur likely stood around 2 meters tall, or roughly 6.5 feet in length. However, similar fossils from Elaphrosaurs discovered in China, Tanzania, and Argentina suggest that some individuals could grow up to a substantial 6 meters in length.

One notable feature of Elaphrosaurs from Australia is their stumpy arms, drooping beaks, small hands, and most likely, a herbivorous diet that didn’t involve meat consumption. Dr. Poropat remarks that the findings associated with these dinosaurs are quite perplexing.

It’s known from a few existing specimens that young Elaphrosaurs possessed teeth, but as they transitioned into adulthood, they began to lose these teeth, eventually replacing them with a horny beak. However, it’s still uncertain if this pattern held true for the Victoria Elaphrosaur, but further discoveries might reveal more about this intriguing aspect of their biology.

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