Dinosaur discoveries: What is a ‘Monkeydactyl’ and how many T-rexes were on the planet?

SALT LAKE CITY (NewsNation) — In the past few weeks, scientists have gotten a better picture of how one of the most famous dinosaurs lived and even discovered brand-new types of the ancient creatures. For example, scientists have calculated that approximately 2.5 billion T-rexes lived on Earth over the existence of the species.

“And the most recent discovery was a site in southern Utah and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument that had many different individuals of a tyrannosaur called ‘Teratophoneus,'” said Randy Irmis, Chief Curator of paleontology at the Natural History Museum of Utah and a University of Utah professor.

Courtesy: Bureau of Land Management Utah

When it comes to discovering new species, Irmis said, “South America has been a really fertile place.” Just recently, an unknown plant-eating dinosaur was unearthed in Chile. “This giant, long neck sauropod dinosaur is a new species that was just found in the Atacama Desert. And it’s really exciting because we’re learning a lot more about the dinosaurs in that area of South America.”

Recent discoveries extended to the flying reptile variety, with the revelation of a “Monkeydactyl.”

Courtesy Chuang Zhao via University of Birmingham

“During the time of dinosaurs, and one of the flying animals is an animal called the pterosaur or pterodactyl, and they’re not quite dinosaurs. They’re a different type of reptile,” said Irmis. “But this one has an opposable thumb, which you can imagine if you fly a lot. Being able to grasp with your wings could be really helpful.”

This opposable thumb was significant in naming the monkeydactyl. “Dactyl” comes from Latin and means “finger.”

Irmis said monkeydactyls are exactly like the flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz. They had a significantly more reptilian appearance and physiology.

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