New Species of Early Cretaceous Dinosaur Named

A new dinosaur species is named and described every twenty to thirty days according to the database on dinosaur research managed by Everything Dinosaur team members.  The latest addition to the Order Dinosauria is a plant-eating dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous of Spain.  This dinosaur has been named Morelladon beltrani.  Described from the rear portion of the skeleton, including some vertebrae and hip bones, this dinosaur pronounced “mor-rell-ah-don bell-tran-eye”, is believed to have been closely related to Iguanodon.

An Illustration of the Newly Described Spanish Dinosaur Morelladon

Plant-eating dinosaur with a hump or perhaps a sail.  What did it use this for?

Plant-eating dinosaur with a hump or perhaps a sail.  What did it use this for?

Picture Credit: Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (Spain)

The bones in the back of this animal have extended spines (neural spines).  These spines may have supported a fleshy hump or perhaps a sail-like structure.

Extension Ideas

  • Challenge the class to find pictures of other dinosaurs in books or on line with humps or sails on their backs.  What do scientists think that these humps and sails were used for?

(clue – look up Spinosaurus, Amargasaurus, Ouranosaurus, Ichthyovenator)

  • Challenge the class to think of animals with humps or sails that are alive today.  Can they name some and explain why these animals have such structures?
  • Why do scientists use information about animals alive today to help them work out how extinct animals may have looked/behaved?
  • How might the hump or sail in a dinosaur evolve?  Can the children come up with some theories?

Curriculum Links

Link to adaptation, variation in populations and environments.  Use to help support science curriculum objectives in Year 6 relating to the exploration of evolution and how fossils can inform us about life in the past.

The Large Spines on the Vertebrae of Morelladon Suggest a Sail or a Hump

The enlarged neural spines of Morelladon.

The enlarged neural spines of Morelladon.

Picture Credit: Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (Spain)/PLOS One

Further supporting information to help with school extensions can be found here: New Species of Dinosaur Described from Spain

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