“It’s hard to believe that we have this massive discovery of an extinct species of dinosaur that is almost exactly the size of a dog,” said Mark Fenton, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC.
“And yet, it’s just so far removed from anything we’ve seen before.”
The new find, named Scelopithecus rosenbergi, is one of only three known dinosaurs to have been discovered in South America.
The other two were previously identified as a different species, but they are so far apart that they can’t be dated.
In fact, the fossil is so far from its closest living relative that it could be almost 20 million years younger than the other two.
Fenton told Business Insider that the species could have been the first of its kind in the Americas.
“The fact that it’s so far away from its nearest living relative, which would be a really big feat, makes it so much more interesting,” he said.
The fossil, which has been found in a deep grave in Argentina’s Bariloche National Park, is about 6 inches (15 centimeters) long and has a skeleton of what appear to be feet and an ankle.
But the researchers say it could have had much bigger legs.
“It is a pretty unusual fossil, with such a long skeleton,” said Fenton.
“This specimen is so different that we can’t even tell if it was a dog or a human.”
The skeleton of Scelpithecus is still intact, so researchers can’t say for sure that the dinosaur was a close relative of modern day dogs, but it’s not the first dinosaur to have walked the Earth’s land.
Fernando and his colleagues discovered more than 4,000 previously unknown dinosaur fossils in the same area in Argentina, but none have been identified so far.
They are studying other bones from different parts of the country in an effort to learn more about what the creatures looked like.
“We think that there are probably more than 500 species of dinosaurs in this area,” said Fernando.
“That is just really amazing.”
Read moreAbout Mark FardonFernandos team hopes to have more fossils of the dinosaur discovered within a few yearsFernandes team hopes that a new discovery of a dinosaur that was probably much bigger than the Scelo-Rsenbergis fossil will provide clues to more species of this species, such as those from Asia and Africa.
“I think it’s going to be a very interesting time in terms of discovering new species of species,” he told Business News Daily.
“I think we’ll find a lot more.”
But he also said the new species could be a huge boon to paleontologists.
“We’re hoping to find out what kind of adaptations it had in the last million years,” he added.
“Maybe the dinosaur is able to live in a place that’s much closer to its closest relative, like the dogs.”
Fernande said it will be interesting to find how the fossils and fossils of other dinosaurs in South American are affected by climate change.
“Climate change will be a major problem,” he explained.
“Dinosaur fossils are important because they tell us about how ecosystems have changed over time.
We want to find species that have the potential to help us understand what that environment was like before it was changing.”
Follow Business Insider’s live blog of the find’s discovery here