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!

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!

Question for students (and subscribers): Why is this discovery significant?  Please let us know in the comments section below this article.

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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.


About Author

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 in Ohio.