Chile: Remains of new species of duck-billed dinosaur found

Scientists have dubbed the dinosaur Gonkoken nanoi, which means "similar to a wild duck or a swan" in the Tehuelche language.

Representative illustration of dinosaurs (photo: DW)
Representative illustration of dinosaurs (photo: DW)


The remains of a duck-billed herbivorous dinosaur previously unknown in the southern hemisphere have been discovered in Chile, scientists said on Friday.

The dinosaur that scientists call Gonkoken nanoi weighed up to a metric ton and could grow to a height of four meters (13.12 feet), in a study published in the Science Advances journal.

'Gonkoken nanoi' believed to have lived 72-million years ago

The dinosaus is thought to have lived in the extreme south of what is today known as the Chilean Patagonia, around 72 million years ago.

"(The) Gonkoken nanoi is not an advanced duck-billed dinosaur, but rather an older transitional duck-billed lineage: an evolutionary link to advanced forms," Alexander Vargas, one of the author's of the study, said.

"These were slender-looking dinosaurs, which could easily adopt a bipedal and quadrupedal posture to reach the vegetation at height and at ground level,” Vargas added.

A decade-long probe took place after an expedition led by the Chilean Antarctic Institute (INACH) in 2013 found fragments of yellowish bones at the bottom of a hillside close to the major tourist hotspot of Torres del Paine in Patagonia.

"At first, we thought it was from the same group as other South American hadrosaurs, but as the study progressed, we realized that it was something unprecedented," Jhonatan Alarcon-Munoz, the main author of the study, said.

The new revelation shows that Chilean Patagonia served as a refuge for very ancient species of hadrosaurs, a type of duck-billed dinosaur which was commonly found in North America, Asia and Europe during the Cretaceous period, from 145 to 66 million years ago.

"Their presence in the remote southern lands surprised scientists, who will have to "understand how their ancestors got there," Vargas said.

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