Paleontologists discovered a new species of dinosaur they called Murusraptor barrosaensis and which belongs to a family of raptors from South America.
The new dinosaur had been found during an expedition to a place named Sierra Barrosa situated in Patagonia. The fossil was dated to 80 million years ago, and the scientists chose the name of the ancient animal based on the way it was found – its name means a thief from the canyon wall.
The mammal is the first to be located in a canyon, as no species of theropods had even been dug up from a canyon. The Murusraptor belongs to a family of midsized carnivores with large claws. The scientists have yet to determine which would be the species of the Murusraptor, and still, the debate over allosaurs or tyrannosaurs descendants.
“Although incomplete, the beautifully preserved bones of Murusraptor unveil unknown information about the skeletal anatomy of megaraptors, a highly specialized group of Mesozoic predators,” said Rodolfo Coria from Argentina’s National Scientific and Technical Research Council.
The researchers believe that there are more dinosaurs in the area, which means they will have more information on the species.
The dinosaur has giant claws and features that make it resemble a bird. The fossils included a partial skull, a pelvis, a tibia and 31 teeth, out of which the scientists determined that the remains belonged to a young specimen.
When compared with other Megaraptorid dinosaurs, the Murusraptor has a unique bone structure, and its hip bones are differently shaped.
The Megaraptorid family lived in Argentina, between 94 and 66 million years ago. These dinosaurs are believed to be ground dwelling carnivores, and until now there had been discovered six specimens, three in the terrestrial collection, another one in the fluvial collection and a last one in a channel lag.
The animal was not yet an adult and still was 26 feet long. The researchers believed that it would have grown even bigger than this, with a size comparable with that of Artosteons and Orkoraptors, which were 20 feet long and are supposed to have weight 500 kilograms.
As the skeleton was found in a single entity, the scientists think it will offer more information that will help them make the connections with other animals.
The fossil has the first intact braincase that was found belonging to a megaraptor, having almost 70 cm in length. The facial features are distinctive, and they had not been observed in any other megaraptorids.
Even if the phylogenetic analysis did not reveal any information on the class of dinosaurs that the specimen belongs to, the fact that the skeleton had intact components may further help scientists to complete the genealogical tree of dinosaurs.
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