Morelladon beltrani.
This is a picture of a life reconstruction of Morelladon beltraniCarlos de Miguel Chaves

Scientists have announced the discovery of a 'sail-backed' dinosaur which they found on the Iberian Peninsula. The animal would have roamed the earth 125 million years ago, the authors report.

Morelladon beltrani
A photograph of dorsal vertebrae series of the holotype specimen of Morelladon beltraniGasulla et al

They have named the new species Morelladon beltrani and have found partial remains of the dinosaur, including dorsal and sacral vertebrae and pelvic bones. They describe it as being six metres long and a styracosternan ornithopod. They add that it would have been of similar stature to its relative, the Mantellisaurus atherfieldensis.

Tall neural spines would have been dotted across its dorsal vertebrae, which the experts believe would have been used for thermoregulation. Alternatively, their paper published in PLOS One details how the 'sail' may have been used as a place to store fat in preparation for a lack of food.

It was discovered in the same area in which the fossilised remains of its relatives Iguanodon bernissartensis and Mantellisaurus atherfieldensis, which would also have lived in the same time period.

Co-author Dr Fernando Escaso of Grupo Biología Evolutiva (UNED-UAM) said: "We knew the dinosaur fauna from Morella was similar to those of other contemporary European sites. However, this discovery shows an interesting rise of the iguanodontoid diversity in southern Europe, 125 million years ago."