Scientists announced on Friday the discovery of remains belonging to a previously unknown species of herbivorous dinosaur in Chile, challenging existing beliefs about the distribution of duck-billed dinosaurs. Known as Gonkoken nanoi, this dinosaur lived 72 million years ago in southern Chilean Patagonia. Measuring up to four meters in length and weighing one ton, Gonkoken nanoi had a slender appearance and could adopt both bipedal and quadrupedal postures to reach vegetation at various heights.
The findings, published in the journal Science Advances and presented in Santiago, revealed that Chilean Patagonia served as a refuge for ancient hadrosaurs, a type of duck-billed dinosaur commonly found in North America, Asia, and Europe during the Cretaceous period. The presence of these dinosaurs in such a remote southern location surprised scientists, who now aim to understand how their ancestors arrived there.
The discovery of Gonkoken nanoi dates back to 2013, initiating a decade-long investigation. The name of the dinosaur, Gonkoken, derives from the Tehuelche language, spoken by the region’s first inhabitants, and translates to “similar to a wild duck or a swan.” This finding marks the fifth dinosaur species discovered in Chile and provides valuable insights into the ancient biodiversity of the region.