Paleontologists in Mexico announced in July their excavation of a large fossilized dinosaur tail, which they believe belonged to a Hadrosaur. The find is significant, in part, because it is one of only a handful of intact specimens of this size to be discovered anywhere in the world. The well-preserved Hadrosaur tail was discovered buried in a sedimentary rock layer in the northern Mexico region of Coahuila; it measures about 16 feet (5 meters) in length and contains 50 vertebrae.
Hadrosaurs were a species of duck-billed dinosaur that lived about 72 million years ago. They are believed to have grown up to 40 feet (12 meters) long, with the tail taking up just under half of their overall length. Based on the size of this new specimen's tail section, the discovery marks this as one of the largest Hadrosaurs ever found, if the tentative identification is confirmed.
A group of local residents discovered the fossil site in June, 2012. Paleontologists with the Mexican National Institute for Anthropology and History (INAH) and the National Autonomous University of Mexico spent about a year surveying the area, and began their excavation on July 2 of this year. The team has excavated other bones from this specimen, aside from the tail, including hip bones, and believes that they may uncover more of the dinosaur buried deeper within the rock.
According to team member Angel Ramirez Velasco of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, the discovery may have significance aside from providing another valuable specimen to add to the world's limited collection of intact dinosaur fossils. The Mexican paleontological team is hoping that their study of this Hadrosaur will help to explain the mechanics of how Hadrosaur tails moved. The fossils will be moved to the nearby city of General Cepeda for further cleaning and detailed analysis.