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Australian Dinosaur Has 'Parrot's Beak' And 'Turtle's Ear'

Update Date: Dec 16, 2015 09:51 AM EST

One of the latest dinosaurs in the land Down Under is Kunbarrasaurus. It has an interesting "parrot-like beak, bones beneath its skin and an inner ear almost identical to a turtle's".

This cool Kunbarrasaurus' skeleton is like a sheep's and was found as long ago as in 1989.

However, many years later, a study  by researchers at the University of Queensland explains that it belongs to a species different from what had been thought earlier.

The skeleton is among the most "intact and well-preserved ankylosaur dinosaur fossils" discovered in Australia, say researchers.

"Ankylosaurs were a group of four-legged, herbivorous dinosaurs, closely related to stegosaurs," Lucy Leahey, co-author of the study.

"Like crocodiles, they had bones in their skin and are commonly referred to as 'armored' dinosaurs."

Finding that the fossil varies from other kinds of ankylosaurs, after they used CT scanning and 3-D reconstruction of its inner ear, brain and nasal cavities to find out its structure, researchers arrived at the new name.

"The CT reconstruction revealed that Kunbarrasaurus had a more complicated airway than other dinosaurs, but less so than ankylosaurs from the Northern Hemisphere," said Lawrence Witmer, co-author of the study. "The inner ear is proportionately enormous and unlike anything we have seen before in a dinosaur. It looks more like the inner ear of a Tuatara or a turtle."

The Kunbarrasaurus specimen is therefore classified as a "new" one.

"Our work has also revealed that Kunbarrasaurus is more primitive than the majority of other well-known ankylosaurs from North America and Asia," said Dr. Steve Salisbury, co-author of the study.

The "Kunbarrasaurus ieversi" fossil can be seen in an exhibition at the Queensland Museum.

The study was published in PeerJ.

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