Archaeologists Decode 72-Million-Year-Old Dinosaur Tail in Mexican Desert

A team of archaeologists has discovered the fossilized remains of a 72-million-year-old dinosaur tail in a desert in northern Mexico. The ‘unusually well-preserved’ fossil, identified as the first-ever found in Mexico, was unearthed by Francisco Aguilar, director of the country’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), and the team of archaeologists from INAH and the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

The team, comprised of experts in paleontology and students from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, excavated the fossil as a complete tail, presumed to be from a hadrosaur, or duck-billed dinosaur. The ‘unusually well-preserved’ fossil provides valuable insights into the prehistoric fauna of Mexico and represents a significant discovery in the field of paleontology. The tail is estimated to be 72 million years old.

The tail, found near the small town of General Cepeda in the border state of Coahuila, likely belonged to a hadrosaur species, resembling a duck-billed dinosaur, according to Francisco Aguilar, head of the dinosaur’s digs. Archaeologists found the 50 vertebrae of the tail completely intact after spending 20 days in the desert slowly lifting a sedimentary rock covering the creature’s bones.

Striking around the tail were other fossilized bones, including one of the dinosaur’s hips, according to INAH said.

Precision: Archaeologists painstakingly excavated the tail.

Speaker for the Dead: The tail, from a hadrosaur, will enable experts to learn about both conditions that affected the colossal beasts.

Despite Mexico’s rich heritage in paleontology, this is the first dinosaur tail found in the country’s capital city.

Stored around the tail were other fossilized bones, including one of the dinosaur’s hips, according to INAH. The new discovery could further contribute to understanding the health of the hadrosaur family and aid research on diseases that afflicted dinosaur bones, resembling those of humans, Aguilar said.

Scientists have already determined that dinosaurs suffered from tumors and arthritis, for example.

Dinosaur remains have been found in many parts of the state of Coahuila, in addition to Mexico’s other northern desert states. ‘We have a very rich history of paleontology,’ Aguilar said.

He noted that during the Cretaceous period, which ended about 65 million years ago, much of what is now the capital north Mexico was on the coast.

This has enabled researchers to unearth remains of both marine and land-based dinosaurs.

The presence of the remains was reported to INAH by locals in June 2012. After initial inspections, excavation began earlier this month. The remains of the tail will be transferred to General Cepeda for cleaning and further investigation.

An artist rendering provided by the National Geographic Society shows what a hadrosaur is believed to have looked like. Most dinosaur groups, except for hadrosaurs and ceratopsians, were in decline for the last 40 million years of the Cretaceous.

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