Zee Media Bureau
London: Scientists have identified a new species of dinosaur about the size of a small dog.
Named Laquintasaura venezuelae, the dinosaur is the first to be discovered in northern South America and shares its name with the La Quinta formation in Venezuela where it was found.
"It is always exciting to discover a new dinosaur species but there are many surprising firsts with Laquintasaura," said lead author Paul Barrett from Natural History Museum in London, Britain.
This species measures up at about a metre long and 25 cm tall, which is almost the size of a small dog and was largely herbivorous.
Scientists unearthed Laquintasauras tangled together in small groups including juveniles and fully grown adults.
The dinosaurs found together probably died at the same time, say the scientists, which could mean they were living in herds - a complex social interaction, so far not seen in this sort of dinosaur until the Late Jurassic around 40 million years later.
"It is fascinating and unexpected to see they lived in herds, something we have little evidence of so far in dinosaurs from this time," Barrett added.
Laquintasaura belongs to the "bird-hipped", or "Ornithischia", group of dinosaurs which later gave rise to Stegosaurus.
The residual radioactivity of tiny crystals in the rock when analysed indicated the age of Laquintasaura to the earliest Jurassic.