Though it weighed less than most housecats, this punky dinosaur likely used its bristles to appear bigger.
A "punk-sized" dinosaur with porcupine-like bristles featured some flashy stabbing self-sharpening fangs -- although it likely only had a taste for plants.
The newly identified dinosaur, named Pegomastax africanus, or "thick jaw from Africa," was a mere two feet long and weighed less than a modern housecat in the flesh. Its remains were chipped out of 200-million-year-old red rock from South Africa.
Though small, the dinosaur was a plucky survivor.
"I think the bristles would have made it look at least a little bigger than it was -- perhaps they could poke out more strongly when excited," Paul Sereno, author of a study about the find in the journal ZooKeys, told Discovery News.
"The main defense would be speed of escape," added Sereno, a paleontologist and professor at the University of Chicago. "These were very long-legged fast critters. (They could inflict) a nipping bite if cornered, using the fangs much like a peccary or fanged deer."