A new species of dinosaur, Morelladon beltrani, lived on Iberia about 125 million years ago.
Scientists have just stumbled across a brand new species of dinosaur that had a sail on its back.
The dinosaurs lived about 125 million years ago and live in what is now northeastern Spain, eating ferns and conifers that were ancestors to the modern day cypress tree, according to a Reuters report.
The fossil was discovered near the town of Morella, and has thus been named a Morelladon. It was a four-legged herbivore that was about 20 feet long and had a strange sail-like structure on its back, which served an unknown purpose.
In addition, it had bony spines sticking out from its “sail” that were up to two feet tall.
The sail may have been used to regulate heat, similar to how modern day elephants use their ears. It also may have been used for fat storage, similar to how camels use their humps. Then, of course, there’s always the possibility it had something to do with attracting mates. Right now, it’s a mystery for scientists, but the creature certainly would have been a sight to behold back in its day.
There have been other dinosaurs discovered with sails, so Morelladon isn’t unprecedented. Probably the most famous example is Spinosaurus, a massive meat-eater that lived 95 million years ago in Africa and stretched 50 feet long, making it bigger than the Tyrannosaurus rex. As far as plant-eaters go, a dinosaur called Ouranosaurus that also lived in Africa probably looked a bit like Morelladon.
Northeastern Spain would have been a volatile region for a dinosaur to leave. It had both wet and dry periods and the temperature could shift from 40 degrees to 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
As far as predators, the main one Morelladon had to worry about was probably Baryonyx, a relative of the Spinosaurus. There were also crocodilians and pterosaurs.