Researchers at the University of Chicago announced today that they’ve discovered an identified a new dinosaur, Pegomastax africanus. It’s not as big as a Brachiosaurus or as ferocious as a Velociraptor, but it’s still plenty terrifying. According to 3D imaging done by researchers, the cat-sized dinosaur was covered in bizarre spines like a porcupine. Even scarier, the new species had sharp edged enlarged canines like “that of a vampire.” Also, those teeth sharpened themselves:
The tall teeth in its upper and lower jaws operated like self-sharpening scissors, with shearing wear facets that slid past one another when the jaws closed.
What’s incredibly cool is that 3D modeling techniques have progressed to the point where extremely lifelike models are easy for paleontologists to create. Aside from giving a visceral view of the dinosaur, the visual models help scientists make hypotheses about the dinosaur. For instance, it’s strange that a plant-eating dinosaur like Pegomastax would have such a developed jaw. Scientists think that perhaps the terrifying teeth were for self-defense and competitive sparring. Regardless of what Pegomastax ate, it was preserved well enough from lake sediment that it is possible to model what it would look like if it were alive: a “nimble, two-legged porcupine.” With vampire-like fangs.
The whole paper is on the free, open source journal ZooKeys here.