Paleontologists from Switzerland and the United Kingdom have discovered a new genus and species of plant-eating dinosaur that lived in what is now Venezuela during the earliest Jurassic, about 200 million years ago.
The newly discovered dinosaur, named Laquintasaura venezuelae, belongs to ornithischians (bird-hipped dinosaurs) – a group which includes species such as Stegosaurus and Iguanodon.
It is the first dinosaur found in the north of South America. Until now paleontologists had assumed that the region was uninhabited by dinosaurs as it was surrounded by large deserts.
Fossil bones of at least four individuals ofLaquintasaura venezuelaewere recovered from the La Quinta Formation of the Venezuelan Andes.
The species was about the size of a small dog, measuring about 1 m in length, and walked on two hind-legs.
It lived in small groups and was largely herbivorous. Long curved tips on some of its teeth suggest it might have also eaten insects or other small prey.