A dinosaur the size of a house cat that’s described as a cross between “a bird, a vampire and a porcupine” has been identified in a piece of rock from South Africa.
University of Chicago paleontologist Paul Sereno said in an interview with the Reuters news agency that he discovered the small herbivore (that means it ate plants) in 1983.
Sereno, whose work involves mapping the dinosaur family tree, said he found the fossil while doing research. He got distracted, he said, and never wrote about the discovery until now.
The strange-looking species, which Sereno has named Pegomastax africanus — or “thick jaw from Africa” — lived between 100 million and 200 million years ago.
“I describe it as a bird, a vampire and a porcupine,” Sereno said. It weighed about as much as a small house cat and stood less than a foot off the ground.
It had a thick jaw and a blunt beak with a “heightened tooth that sticks down, daggerlike,” Sereno said.