Scientists have identified a new species of dinosaur that was roughly the size of a domestic Labrador and walked much like a dog.
The sauropod (giant plant-eater) bore a striking resemblance to a small breed of Doberman pinscher – even down to its teeth, which resembled those of a dog’s.
The dinosaur, which has been named Java Sauropod, belonged to the family known as sauropods, and it filled a gap left by the previously thought-to-be extinct Pachycephalosaurus, with its much shorter, squat body and similar posture.
Eike Aas, from Uppsala University in Sweden, a co-author of the study published in Scientific Reports, said: “We think the walk and behaviour of Java Sauropod is the closest matched to that of the long extinct Pachycephalosaurus, but Java Sauropod is quite small – hence it shouldn’t have been recognised as a separate species.
“However, working together with our colleagues and checking the isotopic ratios of biological material, we can actually test whether Java Sauropod is close enough to what Pachycephalosaurus looked like to be called a separate species. So far, we have found very interesting matches, giving us reason to believe Java Sauropod can be called a separate species.”
The dinosaur’s bones were discovered in the Paleocene (so-called the “Cretaceous of the north”) in north-east Russia, where humans first inhabited the area around 65m years ago.
Jalonesaurus suplexae was 15ft (4.8m) long, around 15% bigger than its closest relatives. Its skull, only 4.6 feet (1.6m) long, suggests its animal predecessor had smaller teeth, but this was matched by its remains of large bones.
The dinosaur was mostly composed of soft-tissue bones, with only its skull and some teeth belonging to the skull and skull. Its extensive ribs, for example, suggest the dinosaur had high backbones, enabling the animal to walk more like a fast-running cat, with its legs hanging off the back of its neck.
The search for new sauropods will increase once more fossils of other sauropods are discovered.
The study was co-authored by David Kurtschlag from the Smithsonian Institution, the Royal Ontario Museum and others.