Paleontology – Discovery of a new giant dinosaur in Argentina
– Discovery of a new giant dinosaur in Argentina
Called Meraxes gigas, this dinosaur was a carnivorous predator that could measure over ten meters and weigh four tons.
On Thursday, paleontologists announced that they had discovered the remains of a new giant dinosaur in Argentina, notable for its huge head and small arms.
Named Meraxes gigas, named after a dragon from the Game of Thrones series, this carnivorous predator was discovered during four-year excavations in northern Argentine Patagonia. The skull was first found in 2012. “We won the lottery, we found it early in the morning” of excavation, Peter Makovicky of the University of Minnesota in the United States told AFP.
Ten meters and four tons
The skull measured more than 1.20 meters, and the animal more than ten meters, weighing about four tons. But its upper limbs were no longer than 60 centimeters “that is half of the skull” and the animal could not use them to “reach the mouth”, the researcher points out.
The team of scientists, who published the results of their research in the scientific journal Current Biology, believe that the small size of the arms gave the animal a certain advantage in terms of survival. According to Peter Makovicky, as the head grew in size, it became the dominant tool in their predatory arsenal, taking on the function that the upper limbs had in smaller species.
Juan Canale, co-author of the study and project manager at the Ernesto Bachmann Museum in Neuquen, in southern Argentina, goes even further. “I am convinced that these proportionally reduced weapons had a function. The skeleton shows significant muscle insertions and fully developed pectoral belts, so the arms had strong muscles, “he explained in a press release.
“They could use their arms for their reproductive behavior, such as holding the female during mating or supporting themselves to get up after a break or fall.” The Merax lived on Earth 90 to 100 million years ago, during the Cretaceous period, when the region was wetter, more forested and much closer to the sea, Peter Makovicky points out.
They could live to be forty, an advanced age for dinosaurs. Presumably they simultaneously hunted sauropods, the remains of which were discovered at the excavation site.
With his skull full of ridges, furrows, bumps and small horns, Meraxes “certainly looked very imposing, looked like a gargoyle,” says Peter Makovicky. “These are the types of characteristics that, in live animals, are often subject to sexual selection,” the researcher points out, specifying that these species used their massive skull as a “billboard” to get noticed by potential partners.