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A dinosaur tail that's 72 million years old was discovered in a desert in Northern Mexico, according to the country's National Institute for Anthropology and History (INAH). The 16-foot tail, which has 50 vertebrae, is believed to have belonged to a duck-billed dinosaur known as hadrosaur.
The team, which includes archaeologists and students, found the fossilized tail completely intact after spending 20 days slowly lifting a rock that was on top of the dinosaur’s bones. The tail most likely made up about half of the dinosaur’s length, Francisco Aguilar, INAH's director in the northern state of Coahuila, told Reuters.
The dig took place in the small town of General Cepeda in Coahuila, which shares a border with Texas. The area is rich with fossilized discoveries. Two of the “most important paleontological sites” in the state: Las Águilas and Rincón Colorado are nine and 20 miles away, respectively.
Dinosaur tails are a rare find. This discovery could lead to a better understanding of the hadrosaur and of dinosaur diseases that resemble diseases of humans, Reuters reports.
In a statement released on Monday, INAH said they would not be able to confirm the species until more bones are recovered. Still, from the evidence they found, paleontologists were able to analyze the dinosaur’s environment and believe it died of natural causes, Aguilar said in a statement.
Hadrosaurs, which is Greek for “bulky lizard,” are defined by their flattened snouts. They were herbivores that had nearly 900 teeth in their mouths. Their fossilized remains have been found in North America, Europe and Asia.
This isn’t the first Hadrosaur tail to make the news this month. Last week, a tooth from a Tyrannosaurs Rex was found wedged into the tail vertebrae of a hadrosaur. New bone growth surrounding the tooth led scientists to the conclusion that the T. Rex attacked the plant-eating dinosaur, but the hadrosaur managed to escape, Smithsonian.com reports.
"T. rex was the monster in Jurassic Park," David Burnham, a paleontologist at the University of Kansas who was part of the team that found the tooth told NBC News. "It wasn't some vulture or scavenger. It would have chased you down and ate you. It's bone-chilling if you think about it."