If he had gotten credit when he made the discovery, seven-year-old Diego Suárez would, instantly, have been the most popular kid in his school. As it was, scientists needed 11 years to figure out just what an amazing discovery the little boy made back in 2004. They announced this week he had uncovered an entirely new species of dinosaur.
Little Diego discovered Chilesaurus diegosuarezi while his geologist parents were studying rocks in Chile. He and his sister were collecting decorative stones when he stumbled onto the fossils. He found so many fossils, in fact, scientists now believe the new species was probably the most common dinosaur in the region 145 million years ago.
Palaeontologists first thought Diego had found fossils of several different Jurassic species. Only after finding a full skeleton, did they realize they were working with what some of them called an “evolutionary jigsaw puzzle.” With its mash-up of features from several different dinosaur groups, Chilesaurus has a long neck, like the herbivorea, but a small head and two-fingered hands. Although closely related to the notorious carnivore Tyrannosaurus rex, this one preferred to graze upon plants. Their findings were published this week in the journal, Nature.
“It’s amazing to have found this new species,” Diego, now an 18-year-old university student, told USA Today. “I feel this incredible joy from being able to be part of something big.”
Diego may be happy with the honor more than a decade later, but how cool would it have been to be seven years old — and have your own dinosaur named after you?
(READ more from the University of Birmingham) – Photo from Manuel Suarez – Illustration by Gabriel Lio
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