Move Over Vampires, A Fanged Dwarf Dinosaur Has Been Discovered!

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A Brief History

On October 3, 2012, a National Geographic explorer announced the discovery of a new species of dinosaur, one with vampire-like fangs!


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Digging Deeper

For this entry, we hearken back to prehistory. In fact, waaaay back to some 200 to 190 million years ago during the early Jurassic Epoch.  During this time period a creature now known as Pegomastax (“strong jaw”) africanus lived with a parrot-like head and an enlarged canine-esque tooth on its lower jaw.  Although believed to be a plant-eater, it may have used its intimidating looking fangs for self-defense.

Paleontologists first collected the creature’s remains in South Africa in an expedition lasting from 1966 to 1967.  Then, in the 1980s, Paul Sereno (born October 11, 1957), currently a professor at the University of Chicago, first recognized the specimen’s unusual qualities.  Yet, despite so much time in the hands of scholars, the new species was not actually unveiled to the non-academic world until October 3, 2012 when both National Geographic and The New York Times reported on Sereno’s findings.  Indeed, it is exciting to think that even in the twenty-first century, new species are still being discovered.

Of course on another note, the creature is also a reminder that not all bizarre and frightening looking dinosaurs were necessarily the size of the T-rex.  We just hope the drawing of this creature does not give too many of our readers nightmares tonight!

Historical Evidence

For the original news story from one of the world’s most enduring and fascinating magazines, please see this link.  See also The New York Times for additional images and information.

Dr. Zar

Dr. Zar graduated with a B.A. in French and history, a Master’s in History, and a Ph.D. in History. He currently teaches history at multiple universities.

  • Matthew Oswald

    Very intersting that only 2ish years ago a new species was revealed!

  • Nathan Beauchemin

    It looked a little like Nosferatu, but from what I understand it was an avid planteater. It’s quills and fangs were more of a defensive function.

  • nate haller

    This is very cool there still discovering animals from this time period. Also it look like all the scary and strange animals from this era were mainly all plant eaters but with fangs or teeth to defend themselves.

  • R.Hammel

    I find it interesting that they can come up with a full description of the creature by just finding some of its remains.

  • Bailey DiMenna

    I find it very interesting that the animal was actually a plant eater despite having those huge fangs. Also, it makes me wonder how many species are there left for us to discover, give how recent this discovery was.

  • Robert Richmond

    RR

  • Cheyenne Johnson

    I found the fact that it wAs a plant eater AnD not a carnivore was Strange to me considering the way it looks and It’s teeth

    • Saiful Rimkeit

      Human Vegans still have canines which have not been shed. First hand evidence: a family member. With teeth reassignment implants, perhaps that can be solved. Exchange the canines for Vegan rather than omnivore teeth. 🙂

  • Mp

    Mp amazing that there are still undiscovered creatures yet to find.

  • Anthony Jones

    I always am amazed to see new creatures being discovered. Even if they may have been plant-eaters, I wouldn’t wanna come across one of them if they still existed!

  • Madison Ertle

    It is amazing to see that this dwarf dinosaur was found in 1966 but no one in the non-academic community heard about it until 2013! It makes you wonder what else has been discovered that we have not heard about yet!

    • Saiful Rimkeit

      Plenty.

  • Allison S

    I would imagine that birds in the prehistoric age were the first to be picked off since they were so small in comparison to dinosaurs themselves. This parrot-like bird knew that in order to survive, it had to have a bite that was bigger than its bark! It’s fascinating that species are constantly evolving in attempts to make it in this world (humans included!)

  • LW

    It’s so interesting that new creatures are being discovered! It makes you wonder what new creatures will be discovered in the future.

  • TR

    It kind of looks like a porcupine, bat, and lizard mixed together. It’s pretty neat that we are still discovering new species of dinosaurs. I’m curious to see what else they learn bout this particular creature.

  • AB

    This definitely looks like the Chupacabra. I’m really hoping they discover new species, both from the past and maybe even some that may still exist

  • K. Sandor

    It’s crazy to think that things like this are being discovered today!

  • Tammy

    What an awesome yet strange little critter! Also, a great idea for a Halloween costume!

  • N. Mills

    It’s interesting to see the shared characteristics between animals that we all know today and Dinosaurs from 190 Million years ago.

  • JKidd

    AB I agree with you. Definitely a Chupacabra.

    • Saiful Rimkeit

      Quick, alert Art Bell. This project definitely qualifies as one where all things that go bump in the night.

  • DSciury

    I thinks its crazy how long they kept the information before they decided to make it public! and i feel like that is a vampires best friend.

    • Saiful Rimkeit

      Igor, pass me the garlic and silver bullets.

    • Saiful Rimkeit

      I also wondered about the length of time it took them to make the discovery public. So, I speculate, imagination included:
      Scene at the Recently Discovered Dinosaur Boneology Department:
      Ms. Proxmire, manager of Recent Discoveries group: “Jones, what happened to the Pegomastax case. It has been about 2 and 1/2 years since you took charge of it”.
      Jones: “Oh, you’re correct, it has been awhile, hasn’t it. Let’s look at the files on my laptop… Let me see… Here it is. By Jove! I nearly forgot. It’s located in Armoire # P-18 in basement room D-14. I’ll getaroundtoit this coming month, Ms. Proxmire — as soon as I wrap up this assigned project.”
      There you go. Or something like that.

  • Tblackford

    I never relized that these creatures existed. And the public was not informed

    • Saiful Rimkeit

      It’s likely the explorers, doctors and scientists have to be sure of what they have at hand. After that, the rest of us will be informed after the circles of Academia get their turn first. I don’t think it was for lack of money. National Geographic is, at least, fairly well funded. That’s my take on it.

  • zh

    Its so awsome that we are still finding new discoveres today

  • EP

    Considering the very small amount of time that humans have inhabited the earth and how long ago life on earth first started, I’m sure paleontologists will continue to find smaller strange creatures. Maybe someday evidence of the flying spaghetti monster will turn up.

  • lhw

    I wonder if they still existed today would there be an open season on them?

  • CNR

    It makes me wonder how many other dinosaurs have not been released to the public simply because they got put into a box or a shelf and forgotten.

  • MMA

    This article leaves us as readers with many questions. As I found out that the discovery of this creature was not released till 2012, I felt a sense of uneasiness. I am curious as to why it was put off for so long? Are there more creatures that were discovered that we do not know about? I do agree with the article when it says, “Indeed, it is exciting to think that even in the twenty-first century, new species are still being discovered.” Because it is crazy to think we continue to grow and discovery more about the past each day.

  • Megan Arrendale

    I think it is crazy they waited a whole decade before anyone started to really talk about this creature. Then, another 30 years went by before it was revealed to anyone in the non-academic world. They always say that size is just a measurement. It does not matter how big or small something is, it can always be dangerous.

  • SRP

    I think that it is crazy that it has taken so long for them to discover the remains of this creature and how long it took them to start talking about it. I also think that it is interesting that it has teeth that look like they were for meat eaters but only ate plants. Having these teeth makes the creature even more unique so it can fight off predators. Overall I think that it is extremely interesting that it takes so long to discover new species that were around so long ago.

  • Erin R

    It still amazes me that we can find out so much about species that lived that long ago. Also very interesting to see a smaller dinosaur. There is generally more of a focus on the giant dinosaurs like the T Rex we have come to know and love!

  • Sarah Shaheen

    I think its crazy how all this time we had no idea this thing existed until recently. It opens up new opportunities for research.

  • Amber Duncan

    I think this was pretty interesting. Dinosaurs have always seemed cool to me, so when they discover new kinds its pretty exciting!

  • Tevin Knerr

    I think its amazing how we are still finding new prehistoric creatures! this thing looks scary it amazes me that they claim it was a plant eater!

  • Branden Nau

    It is honestly crazy that they can find out so much information about something that has been dead for so long.

  • APG

    Imagine how much more we could discover about creatures as old as this in the near future with how fast our advancement and understanding of science is leading to new and better ways to learn about things we’ve never even seen.

  • AB

    This was very fascinating on how they are still finding info about these creatures after they are already dead. This is something that i never really thought about

  • Max Bechara

    I’m actually really surprised they managed to discover something like this, it just makes me realize that theres still so much left in this world that we still don’t know about