New 'Giant Thief' dinosaur discovered

2016-07-21 19:35
Argentine palaeontologist Sebastian Apesteguia speaks next to a a drawing of what he says is a newly-discovered carnivorous dinosaur. (Natacha Pisarenko, AP)

Argentine palaeontologist Sebastian Apesteguia speaks next to a a drawing of what he says is a newly-discovered carnivorous dinosaur. (Natacha Pisarenko, AP)

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Miami - A previously unknown species of meat-eating dinosaur from 80 million years ago has been unearthed in Argentina, adding to the dino family known as the "Giant Thieves", researchers said on Wednesday.

The fossil found in Patagonia - an area rich in bone discoveries from the Late Cretaceous Period - is named Murusraptor barrosaensis and may reveal more about the origins of the group known as the megaraptorids, according to the study in the open-access journal PLOS ONE.

These dinosaurs walked on two legs, bore large sickle-shaped toe claws and were fast, agile and smart with voracious appetites that led to the nickname, "Giant Thief".

Other well known megaraptorids include the Megaraptor, Orkoraptor, and Aerosteon. Some members of the family have been found in Australia and Japan.

This fossilised partial skeleton was discovered in Sierra Barrosa, in northwest Patagonia.

Researchers said it is "one of the most complete megaraptorids found, with an unusually intact brain case".

The dinosaur appears to have been a juvenile, but may have grown "larger and slenderer than Megaraptor and comparable in size with Aerosteon and Orkoraptor".

The lead researchers are Rodolfo Coria from the Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Cientificas y Tecnicas, Argentina, and Phillip Currie from the University of Alberta, Canada.

"A new meat-eating dinosaur, Murusraptor barrosaensis, has been discovered from 80 million year old rocks from Patagonia, Argentina," said Coria.

"Although incomplete, the beautifully preserved bones of Murusraptor unveil unknown information about the skeletal anatomy of megaraptors, a highly specialised group of Mesozoic predators."

Read more on:    argentina  |  palaeontology

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