Researchers Say They Discovered A New Dinosaur Species

(Photo by CARL DE SOUZA/AFP via Getty Images)

Jeff Peacock Contributor
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Researchers announced the discovery of fossils in Arizona on Thursday that represent a previously unknown species of dinosaur, according to a press release from the National Park Service.

The new species has been dubbed Skybalonyx skapter, and is believed to have lived about 220 million years ago during the Triassic Period, per the press release. (RELATED: Dinosaur Skeleton Sells For $3.5 Million In Paris Auction)

The small dinosaur is speculated to have had claws designed for burrowing and researchers suggest the creature’s claws were similar to modern-day moles, echidnas, and mole-rats. Other distinguishing characteristics of the tiny animal included enlarged second claws, bird-like beaks and tails with claws. Scientists believe the reptile looked like a mix between an anteater and a chameleon.

The fossils were discovered during the summers of 2018 and 2019 in the Petrified Forest National Park just outside Holbrook, Arizona. The area has become a popular destination for researchers studying Triassic-era plants and animals, according to the Associated Press. The lead paleontologist at the park, Adam Marsh, said that over 3,000 fossils have been discovered in this eastern region of the park, according to ABC15 in Phoenix.

Due to the small size of the fossils, researchers used a screen-washing technique to find the prehistoric bones. This method uses a series of metal screens and water to separate the fossils from rocks and other materials.

The research team included researchers from the park, Virginia Tech, the University of Washington, Arizona State University, Idaho State University and the Virginia Museum of Natural History. Their findings were published earlier this month in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.