Many kids dream of finding a new dinosaur species, and in 2004 that dream came true for 7-year old Diego Suárez. While walking in the Chilean Patagonia with his geologist parents he found some dinosaur bones, which were soon revealed to belong to an unknown species. A decade later, with over a dozen specimens, including 4 complete skeletons, excavated, it turns out that Chilesaurus diegosuarezi is a more exciting find than anyone could have imagined.
Chilesaurus is part of the theropod group of dinosaurs – meat eaters like the Velociraptor and the T-Rex – but its teeth and proportionally small head, resembling those of primitive herbivorous long-necked dinosaurs, prove that it fed on plants. This is not the only example of a theropod adapting to a plant-based diet, and according to paleontologist Lindsay Zanno, quoted in Smithsonian.com, these finds may be linked to the survival of the only group of theropod dinosaurs still around: birds. As if that weren’t enough fame, Chilesaurus is approximately 150 million years old, making it a contender for the earliest known herbivorous theropod.