Juan Canal has been a fan of dinosaurs since his childhood. Studied paleontology at the National University of La Plata. He conducted his doctoral thesis on the family of carcharodontosaurids, a group of dinosaurs that inhabited different regions of the world. But he found his place in northern Patagonia for investigation. He is a researcher at CONICET and directs the Laboratory and Research District of the Ernesto Bachmann Museum in Villa El Chocon in Neuquén..
Two years after his thesis, Canal, together with a team of researchers from Argentina, the United States and Canada, discovered a representative of carcharodontosaurids, which was broadcast by the media in different countries. They called it Meraxes gigas.
It was the discovery of a new species of carnivorous dinosaur of global importance because the fossil remains that were found were well preserved and allow us to get more details about the biodiversity of animals more than 93 million years ago. Kanal felt he was “lucky” to make the discovery and was able to study it with the team that last Thursday published the study in the journal. Current Biology.
Canal, who moved to Patagonia to live and develop a passion for dinosaurs, came up with the idea for the new species name. He is a reader of the fairy tale “Song of Ice and Fire” that led to the series. Game of thrones (Game of thrones). I called him Merax In honor of one of the wonderful creations of American writer George R. R. Martin, a female dragon figure.
in conversation with black river, Kanal recounted that during his childhood, “I was a kid already knowing all the names of dinosaurs. I loved visiting museums and reading about those topics. This curiosity never crossed me.” Additionally, he noted that the 1994 movie Jurassic Park “blew his mind”. Even at the time, he loved learning about dinosaurs, but the movie and the fossil characters shown there made him think he wanted to devote himself to exploration..
Now, after ten years of studies, Kanal has combined what he learned with the team of researchers and discovered a new species of large carnivorous dinosaur, 11 meters long, with small arms and a large skull and estimated to weigh 4,200 kilograms. She lived between 96 and 93 million years ago.
A copy of Miraxis Gegas Found in Neuquen was an individual dinosaur that died when it was 45 years old. The fact that – according to Canale – allows us to confirm that it is one of the longest-lived specimens of dinosaurs ever found in the world.
“The mirax certainly predated the long-necked dinosaurs, which at that time also inhabited the present-day Neuquén Territory,” said Dr. Kanal..
The new dinosaur, then, belonged to the family carcharodontosaurids. There were Earth’s greatest hunters ever, including the famous Tyrannosaurus rex, which inhabited the northern hemisphere between 68 and 66 million years ago.
Members of this family included species such as Giganotosaurus and the Maposaurus (also discovered in Neuquén), Carcharodontosaurus (found in Africa), tyrant (in Chubut), and torovinator (found in Rio Negro). In that family joined Miraxis Gegas. It was a very successful group and suddenly disappeared into the Upper Cretaceous period. Scientists have not yet been able to explain the reasons for the extinction of this family.
The discovery was co-founded by Sebastian Apistegoya and Pablo Galena of the Paleontological District of the Felix de Azara Foundation for Natural History and researchers from the Field Museum in Chicago, US. They have received funding from the National Geographic Society, the municipality of Villa El Chocon, the Azara Foundation, the Field Museum, the Argentine Research and Development Agency – which is dependent on the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, and the US National Science Foundation. States.
The discovery was made in a field located a short distance off the north coast of the Ezequiel Ramos Mexía Reservoir in the province of Neuquén. Fossil remains confirm that carcharodontosaurids had very short arms, despite the fact that they were huge animals..
It is possible that the short arms helped the males stay above the females during copulation. There are even experts who have suggested using the tiny but muscular arms of T. rex birds to tear apart prey. It has also been suggested that they were used as an aid to get up from the ground when lying down. “Actually, we don’t know for sure,” Kanal said.
Science Minister Daniel Filmus congratulated the scientists led by Kanal last Thursday. He highlighted the discovery: “This result allows us to learn about the organisms that inhabited our soil millions of years ago, and provides basic information about their morphology, making it possible to reconstruct species and even increase knowledge about their diversity.”
Villa El Chocón: the history of the reported discoveries since 1884
Juan Canal moved to Patagonia and did not stop finding dinosaurs with other researchers. Today he is a researcher at Conicet and works at the Ernesto Bachmann Museum, in Villa El Chocón, Neuquén, which was established in 1995.
In the El Chocón area, he already participated in the discovery of dinosaurs Scorpiofinatorreleased in 2009, and Bagadasauruswho lived 140 million years ago. During a paleontology conference in the Neuquén Basin, Canale said that the Chocón region, located on the banks of the Limay River/Esequiel Ramos Mexia Reservoir, has significant exposures of rocks belonging to the Candeleros and Hincol (Upper Cretaceous, Turonian Cenomanian) formations of the Neuquén group.
The first fossil remains reported from the El Chocón region are consistent with a sauropod dinosaur, found in 1884 and published in 1902..