One of many world’s most harmful prehistoric ecosystems simply added one other enormous predator to its lineup. Within the Bahariya Formation, a well-known fossil web site in Egypt’s Sahara Desert, a workforce of Egyptian and American paleontologists not too long ago uncovered an enormous fossil vertebra belonging to a newly described species of meat-eating abelisaurid dinosaur — a bipedal, carnivorous group that lived through the Cretaceous interval (145 million to 66 million years in the past).
Like different abelisaurids, the newfound dinosaur had a shortened, bulldog-like face. And regardless of its ferocious look, this carnivore in all probability wasn’t the largest, baddest boss to roam its stomping grounds.
“We’re about 99% positive that, in contrast to a few of its family from different instances and locations, this explicit abelisaurid was not on the high of its meals chain,” Matthew Lamanna, a paleontologist on the Carnegie Museum of Pure Historical past in Pittsburgh and one of many researchers who found the dinosaur, informed Stay Science in an e-mail.
Although Lamanna and his fellow scientists discovered solely a single bone, they had been capable of establish the fossil as an abelisaurid vertebra nearly instantly, based mostly on distinctive constructions referred to as epipophyses. “That’s a multisyllabic phrase that mainly means ‘sticky-outy bits on the highest left and high proper of the vertebra,'” Lamanna mentioned. This abelisaurid is the primary dinosaur of its type to be found on the Bahariya Formation web site. After operating a computer-based evaluation of the bone’s morphology, the workforce concluded that it belonged to a beforehand unknown species, which has but to be given a scientific identify. They revealed their findings June 8 within the journal Royal Society Open Science (opens in new tab).
An abelisaurid considerably resembled a heavy-set Tyrannosaurus rex, solely with even stubbier arms, Smithsonian Journal (opens in new tab) reported. They roamed the Southern Hemisphere from the center of the Jurassic interval, about 170 million years in the past, proper up till the Chicxulub asteroid introduced the Cretaceous to a screeching halt. Maybe probably the most well-known abelisaurid is the horned Carnotaurus, a Patagonian predator that reached 25 ft (7.6 meters) lengthy, in line with London’s Pure Historical past Museum (opens in new tab). Its identify is taken from the Latin phrases for “flesh” and “bull,” and animated variations of this fearsome carnivore have appeared in Apple TV’s “Prehistoric Planet” and within the “Jurassic Park” franchise (although, its portrayals show various levels of scientific accuracy).
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The researchers suspect that the newly found abelisaurid was smaller than Carnotaurus, seemingly reaching simply 16 to twenty ft (5 to six meters) in size. And in comparison with the predators who shared its native habitat 98 million years in the past, the newfound abelisaurid would have been a relative pipsqueak.
The Bahariya Formation was beforehand dwelling to a uniquely predator-rich slice of prehistoric life. This once-vast mangrove swamp hosted quite a few species of fish, turtles, snakes and dinosaurs. The newfound abelisaurid would have rubbed elbows (metaphorically talking) with a T. rex lookalike referred to as Carcharodontosaurus; a mysterious big therapod (bipedal, three-toed dinosaurs) referred to as Bahariasaurus; the monstrous Spinosaurus, which had lengthy and slender crocodilelike jaws and a sail rising from its again; and big predatory fish and crocodilians.
Discovering so many massive predators dwelling collectively in a single ecosystem is uncommon, Lamanna mentioned. “How this 98-million-year-old setting managed to assist not one however 4 huge predatory dinosaurs stays a puzzle,” he added.
The newly described fossil is now saved within the everlasting assortment of Mansoura College’s Vertebrate Paleontology Middle in Egypt. Sooner or later, Lamanna and his coauthors plan to return to the Bahariya Formation and seek for extra bones from their abelisaurid — and possibly even give it a reputation.
“Hopefully extra of this Bahariya beast will flip up ultimately,” Lamanna mentioned.
Initially revealed on Stay Science.