On March 10th Dr. Phillip Currie of the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology and Dr. Rodolfo Coria of the Museo Carmen Funes in Argentina announced the ...
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GIGANTIC THEROPOD DISCOVERED IN ARGENTINA
Not only is is larger than T. rex, but it also hunted in packs!
A Tyrannosaurus rex at the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh.
In an evolutionary sense, size does matter, and nowhere was this more present than in Cretaceous Argentina, an environment which hosted 41-foot long predator Giganotosaurus, 100-foot long sauropod Argentinosaurus, and a newly discovered 110-foot long sauropod. Now add to that mix a new, ferocious speices of theropod dinosaur which may have grown in the upwards of 45 feet and given T. rex a good scare!
On March 10th Dr. Phillip Currie of the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology and Dr. Rodolfo Coria of the Museo Carmen Funes in Argentina announced the discovery of a new species of carnivorous dinosaur from the Cretaceous of Argentina, dating to about 100 million years ago. The initial discovery was made by Coria's team in 1997, but Coria spent the better of three years determining if the discovery represented a new species or a version of the beast he named in 1996-Giganotosaurus, the first carnivorous dinosaur discovered that was larger than Tyrannosaurus rex. On March 10 Coria and Currie finally made their announcement of the currently unnamed find at the Riverfront Arts Center in Wilmington, Delaware.
Not only is this find importance because of its size, but Currie and Coria believe that the discovery has very important social and ecological significance as well. During their 1997 dig Coria discovered the remains of six individuals of this species, ranging from youth to adult, which has led him to hypothesize that the fearsome beasts traveled in hunting packs, which would make them even more menacing to their prey. This fact is regarded as surprising to paleontologists, who have largely considered large predators to be solitary hunters.
"The bigness of it - well obviously it gets headlines - but scientifically, it's not that important. But the fact that they traveled together, that's very interesting," said Dr. Jack Horner, a Montana paleontologist who earlier this decade led a team that uncovered a nearly complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton and has publicized the notion that T. rex may have been a scavenger.
The individual of this species would have been characterized by a long, narrow skull and a jaw shaped like scissors. According to Currie, this suggests that it could have dissected its prey with almost "surgical precision." Currie estimates this new dinosaur at about 45 feet in length, while Giganotosaurus was approximately 41 feet long and the familiar North American Tyrannosaurus rex exhibiting a length of roughly 40 feet. Although T. rex will most likely remain the most popular dinosaur in the media and with children, Currie commented that he would much rather run into T. rex than this new dinosaur.
"I think it would look just as nasty, if not worse (than T. rex),'' Currie said. ``This guy has a long snout, long skull, incredibly sharp teeth - I think it would have been terrifying."
At the Wilmington, Delaware exhibit, which focused on the career findings of Dr. Currie, the Canadian scientist commented on the family relationships of this new dinosaur. He stated that the new species is apparently related to Giganotosaurus, or about as closely related as a dog and a fox. He also commented that this new dinosaur is much farther removed from T. rex, making the two about as close as a dog and a cat.
Paleontologist and theropod expert Tom Holtz, of the University of Maryland, believes that researchers are not likely to come upon carnivorous dinosaurs much larger than Currie and Coria's new discovery.
"I think we're getting close to the size limit you could be and still be an effective meat-eater,'' said Holtz, who has documented theropod evolution over his career. ``If you get too large, you won't be able to hunt down prey because you'll simply be too ponderous.''
The March 10 comments by Currie were only a preliminary announcement, and a scientific research paper describing the dinosaur will not be published for quite some time. In their paper Currie and Coria will apparently give the dinosaur a South American Indian name, but any details about the name have not yet been announced, according to Holtz. So, as with most paleontological discovery, stay tuned!
Edited by draconic chronicler, 21 August 2007 - 10:51 PM.