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Peace agreement in Colombia leads to the discovery of new species of dinosaurs

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Scientists thrive on collaboration, but human conflict can hinder or impede research.

In Colombia, paleontologists wanted to return to the site where a dinosaur vertebra was found in the 1940s. But the mountains of the Serranía del Perijá were ground zero during decades of civil war, prohibiting research.

Now, paleontologists have come back and confirmed that the vertebra belonged to a newly identified species of long neck sauropod. They attribute the find to the nation’s 2016 peace agreement.

The peace agreement ended the conflict between the Colombian government and the guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

The sauropod’s new name bears witness to the discovery’s peaceful origins: the researchers named it Perijasaurus lapaz after the mountainous region and the Spanish word for “peace”.

Perijasaurus was up to 39 feet long and lived in the region about 175 million years ago. The specimen is similar to other smaller sauropod fossils found in India, North Africa, Europe, and southern South America.

Dinosaur discoveries in northern South America are rare. Perijasaurus is the northernmost sauropod found on the continent.

The unusual story behind the name of a newly identified dinosaur

Their location lends credence to the theory that long-necked dinosaurs spread out geographically and became more diverse after a major Jurassic-era extinction event that occurred when oxygen plummeted in some oceans and the environment changed. Perijasaurus is thought to be an early example of the enormous evolution of long-necked vegetarians.

“Without the security conditions that are provided today in the area, it would have been difficult to return to the field,” Aldo Rincón Burbano, a professor at the Department of Physics and Geosciences at the Universidad del Norte in Barranquilla and one of the leaders of the study, said in an email. United Nations Press release. “This is due to the peace agreement.”

As part of the peace process, the UN monitors compliance with the agreement and that former FARC members reintegrate into Colombian life. Félix Arango, a former FARC combatant familiar with the area from his days as a paramilitary, helped researchers find the spot where Perijasaurus was first found.

The researchers published their recommendations in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

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