Pepito, Cuenca’s hunchbacked dinosaur
To find a new specimen in a field like paleontology is rare, and to find a whole skeleton is an extraordinary event. So when the scientists Francisco Ortega, Fernando José Luis Sanz unearthed all of the bones of an unknown species at the site of Las Hoyas, Cuenca, we could say that they had been rewarded for their years of hard work.
A terrible lizard, six meters long and with a hump, could be part of the latest additions to Jurassic Park. Dubbed as Pepito, his scientific name is Concavenator corcovatus, meaning hunchback hunter from Cuenca. The scholars have estimated his age at about 125 million years and believe that he behaved in a similar way to lions: a hunter who would not be averse to carrion.
One of the most striking features of the find, in addition to its excellent state of preservation, is the hump, a feature that is unknown in any other dinosaur and misleads the experts. Paleontologists do not know what Pepito might use his hump for.
Another difference in Pepito are some bumps on the forearm, much like those that attach the feathers of modern birds. Thanks to other fossils found at Las Hoyas and China, researchers have concluded that not all dinosaurs became extinct 65 million years ago, and now argue that some survived to evolve into birds.
In addition to all these developments, Pepito provides new information about the family of the lower Cretaceous. Called the carcadorontosaurios, they were hitherto considered typical of the southern hemisphere. But the discovery of Pepito, together with another of a much less complete fossil of the same family in the UK, has led researchers to rectify the idea they had on their evolution and geographical trajectory.
Pepito can be visited at the Science Museum of Castilla-La Mancha, where an explanation is given of his peculiarities, his way of life and his hump. Surrounded by his neighbours from Las Hoyas, Pepito waits. Not really a problem, he has been doing so for 125 million years.
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