T-Rex's Vegetarian Relative Discovered in Chile

Platypus-like dinosaur had some unusual traits.

ByABC News
April 27, 2015, 3:46 PM
A new dinosaur called Chilesaurus diegosuarezias has been discovered.
A new dinosaur called Chilesaurus diegosuarezias has been discovered.
Gabriel Lio

— -- Meet the vegetarian relative of the Tyrannosaurus rex.

A team of researchers in Chile have discovered fossils belonging to an unusual platypus-like dinosaur they dubbed the Chilesaurus diegosuarezia -- a bizarre creature that roamed Patagonia during the late Jurassic period some 145 million years ago.

While it has a duck bill like a platypus, the Chilesaurus had hands with two fingers that made it resemble its meat-eating relative, the T-Rex.

The dinosaur's skull was proportionally small to its body, while its teeth and footprints would have been similarly sized to primitive long-neck dinosaurs, according to findings published today in the journal "Nature."

While some of the fossils were turkey-sized, researchers were able to determine from all of the samples that the Chileosaurus measured about 3 meters long.

"Chilesaurus provides a good example of how evolution works in deep time and it is one of the most interesting cases of convergent evolution documented in the history of life," Martin Ezcurra, a researcher at the University of Birmingham and one of the co-authors of the journal article, said in a statement.

The fossil is named for Diego Suarez, the 7-year-old son of geologists who first found the fossils at the Toqui Formation, which is located south of Chilean Patagonia.

More than a dozen objects have since been excavated from the Jurassic era rock. Among them were four complete skeletons, showing off the jigsaw-like traits of the unique dinosaur.