Previously Unknown Dinosaur Fossil Discovered in Argentina

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The fossil of an unknown dinosaur until now discovered in Argentina

Argentinian paleontologist Pablo Gallina in front of a replica of the fossil of a Meraxes gigas at Maimonides University in Buenos Aires, July 7, 2022.

The remains of an unknown giant dinosaur, characterized by its enormous head and small arms, have been discovered in Argentina by an international team of paleontologists.

Baptized Meraxes gigas – named after a dragon featured in the Game of Thrones series – this carnivorous predator was discovered during four-year excavations in the northern Argentine Patagonia. The skull was first found in 2012.

Artistic representation of the Meraxes gigas

We won the lottery, we discovered it on the first morning of excavations, explained to AFP Peter Makovicky, of the & #x27;University of Minnesota, USA.

The skull measured more than 1.20 meters, and the animal more than 10 meters, for a weight of about 4 tons. But its upper limbs were no longer than 60 centimeters, or half the skull, and the animal could not use them to reach its mouth, the researcher said.

The team of scientists, who published the results of their research in the journal Current Biology, believe that the small size of the arms gave the animal a certain advantage to survive.

According to Mr. 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.

Argentinian paleontologists Sebastian Apesteguia (left) and Pablo Gallina observe a fossil replica of a Meraxes gigas.

Juan Canale, study co-author and project manager at the Ernesto Bachmann Museum in Neuquen, southern Argentina, goes even further.

I am convinced that these proportionally reduced arms had a function. The skeleton shows large muscle insertions and fully developed pectoral girdles, so the arms had strong muscles, he explained in a statement.

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 a fall.

Meraxes gigas lived on Earth 90 to 100 million years ago, during the Cretaceous, when the region was wetter, more forested, and much closer to the sea. sea, points out Mr. Makovicky.

They could live up to forty years, an advanced age for dinosaurs. They presumably hunted sauropods living at the same time, the remains of which have been discovered at the excavation site.

With its skull full of ridges, furrows, bumps and small horns, Meraxes gigas certainly looked very imposing, it looked like a gargoyle, says Mr Makovicky.

These are the types of features that in living animals, are often subject to sexual selection, the researcher points out, pointing out that these species used their massive skulls as a billboard to get noticed by potential partners.

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