This Thursday, a team of scientists led by Argentine researchers presented to Miraxis Gegasa New species of giant carnivorous dinosaurs Found in the province Neuken. According to experts, this is the most complete skeleton of this type of predator found to date, which will allow not only a detailed characterization of this population of America millions of years ago, but also Discussing the evolutionary process.
The investigation, which began in 2012 with the discovery of the first bone remains and included four annual excavations, a long bone-cleaning process, and microscopic study and classification. It was published on Thursday in the prestigious scientific journal current biology.
Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Daniel Filmuscongratulated the scientists and stressed that the discovery “fills us with pride and accounts for the magnitude and quality of Argentine research and The importance of a country that invests in science and technology“.
The most complete skeleton to date
“The significance of Meraxes lies in the fact that he is The first carcharodontosaurids (giant carnivorous dinosaurs) in the Americas appeared to look rather complete.. So far we have had problems with others that we found because they were so incomplete; For example, we didn’t have a single skull to measure,” said Conicet paleontologist and researcher at the Azara Foundation, Sebastián Apesteguía, one of the excavators.
In the case of Meraxes, Apesteguía asserted, Found “a complete skull as well as arms and legs, So we can get a lot of details for the proportions of the measurements and Discuss the evolutionary process; For example, to analyze why larger dinosaurs had such small arms among carnivores.”
“We were also able to verify that the inner claw of the three toes has been expanded to the point that it is twice as large as any other claw. This shows us that He used his feet as weapons in addition to his headThe digger, who is also an educator and author of several popular books such as “Our Dinosaurs” and “Life in Evolution,” noted.
Another feature of Meraxes is that “Thanks to paleobiology studies (microscopic analysis of bones), It can be seen that he lived around 45 years old, which makes him one of the oldest dinosaurs we knowBecause even the oldest known Tyrannosaurus Rex lived between 30 and 33 years old.”
According to researchers, Mirax reached about 11 meters long and weighing more than four tons (4200 kg).
His head was huge, and his bones were highly decorated with bumps, ridges, and grooves, and the shape of Knife-sized teethwhile they The arms were like a person’s arms.
Apesteguía described “on his back a kind of slit which certainly corresponds to a rise in the line of the vertebrae giving him a little hump. His sacrum had a strange shape like a saddle and his legs were strong.”
Bones of this new dinosaur were found in Bard of the Bells pierced, a barren site about 20 kilometers from Villa El Chocón in Neuquén County. In that area there is a part of the rock known as Huincul . formationdeposited at the beginning of the Late Cretaceous period (about 96 to 93 million years ago).
“The rocks of the Huincul Formation have long been known as a place where the remains of large dinosaurs are located. We were working in the north of the Rio Negro, where we discovered many new but small dinosaur species, as well as to complete this task we began working south of Neuquén, where the Barda Atravesada de las Campanas is located. Where we found Mirax,” said the paleontologist.
For this, “we coordinated to work with Juan Canal, Pablo Galina, Alejandro Halusa and other colleagues we met at La Plata College,” the specialist said in an interview with Tellam. Excavations powered by National Geographic Society All work was additionally funded by Municipality of Villa El Chocon (Argentina), Azara Foundation (Argentina), Field Museum (USA), Agency I+D+i (Argentina) and National Science Foundation (USA).
The first bones were found in 2012. At first we expected it to be a Giganotosaurus carolini, which is from the area, but we excluded it because it is from an older period; Then we thought it could be one of the giant carnivorous dinosaurs found in the Huincul Formation, but when preparing the specimen we realized the bones were different,” Apesteguía described.
The extraction From the large bones of this animal It took four annual campaigns From two to four weeks each, researchers, technicians and students participated.
The second part of the work, which took years, consists of Skeletal preparationIt is the cleaning of the bones by extracting the surrounding sandstone, and it was done by Andres Moretti, Jonathan Arroca, Rogelio Zapata, Akiko Chiña, Mara Ripoll, Miguel Romero and Leandro Ripoll. Once completed, came the part of the study led by Kanal.
The original fossil material, as well as the rest of the fossils from the area, were deposited in Municipal Museum of Villa El Chocon “Ernesto Bachmann” from Neuken.
Game of thrones
The name Meraxes refers to one the Dragon From the fantasy game world From throneswritten by author George R.R. Martin.
“The connection of dragons and dinosaurs has been going on for many years. We had several names but Juan (Canal) reads the books on which the series is based and loved the name Mirax, Since our specimen is a kind of sleeping dragon, it looked good to us.”