Pegomastax was related to both the Triceratops and Stegosaurus (Photo : National Geographic Video Screen Capture)
A 200-million-year-old dinosaur known as Pegomastax africanus is the latest star of the archeological community, dubbed 'Dracula' for its serrated 0.8cm canines.
Although the creature was originally discovered in the 1960s in southern South Africa, scientists have only recently begun to examine its remains. Paul Sereno, paleontologist at the University of Chicago, paints a picture of Pegomastax: "It would have looked a bit like a two-legged porcupine, covered in these weird, funky, quill-like things.
Like Us on Facebook
Sereno adds, "The bristles were not quite as strong as a porcupine's, and they don't look as if they were especially effective for insulation. Perhaps they had colors and helped differentiate species, or made Pegomastax look bigger than it actually was to predators."
As for the dinosaur's appendages, Pegomastax "was two-legged, probably fleet-footed, and had grasping hands."
Akin to the creature's quills, its canines were likely a defensive measure, as Pegomastax was an herbivore. "The canines probably had nothing to do with eating. They may have been used to spite rivals, nip at others, defend themselves, maybe root around for food," states Sereno.
The University paleontologist notes that the creature and its "kin were the most advanced plant-eaters of their day," and that it was "very rare that a plant-eater like Pegomastax would sport sharp-edged enlarged canines."
Weighing in at 15 pounds, with a length of 0.6 meters, the dinosaur was "mostly tail and neck," as opposed to two other creatures in its group: the Triceratops and Stegosaurus.
In an interview with LiveScience, Sereno joked that "It would have looked like Dracula."
"Probably appropriate, since we're now moving toward Halloween."
Researchers originally published their study on Pegomastax in the scientific journal ZooKeys.