Brazilian Scientists Discover 115-Million-Year-Old Fossil of New Dinosaur Species
A team of Brazilian researchers announced on Friday that they discovered a 115-million-year-old fossil that belongs to a species of dinosaur not known in the northeastern state of Ceara.
The bone fragment, which was presented at Brazil's National Museum, was identified as the right hind limb of a young sample. It was found 12 years ago in a quarry near the town of Santana do Cariri in Ceara, said a report from La Prensa Latina.
The species "Aratasaurus museunacionali" is a medium-sized theropod. This means it had hollow bones and its limbs had three toes.
The first part of its name is a combination of two words from the indigenous language. "Ara" means "born" and "ata" means "fire." The Greek work "saurus" means lizard. The second part of its name was a nod to Brazil's oldest scientific institution, the Museu Nacional.
In a report from Deutsche Welle, paleontologist Juliana Sayao said the fossil came from a dinosaur that died young. It is believed to have weighed around 34.25 kilos (75.5 pounds) and was 3.12 meters high (10.24 feet).
After the fossil went through analysis at universities in Pernambuco and Cariri, it was brought to the National Museum of Brazil in 2016.
Two years later, the museum suffered a fire that consumed a large portion of its 20 million items, more or less. Fortunately, the area, where the fossil was kept, was not reached by the fire.
Further Study on Carnivorous Dinosaurs
Sayao said the discovery of the new theropod will help scientists in understanding the history of the carnivorous species. It is also a sign that other types of carnivorous dinosaurs lived in the area millions of years ago.
Before the fossil could be studied, they had to chip away the rock surrounding it, which is a long and tedious process.
The scientific report from Nature said the fossil was preserved and found in a slab of dark shale. They recovered the creature's partial femur, tibia, and pes.
Even if it's just a part of the species, it turned out to reveal many differences between Aratasaurus and other Coelusaurs, the scientists said.
During fossilization, the external bone surface of the femur and tibia was cracked because of compacting. The pes still showed most of its original shape.
The fossil was determined to be part of the evolutionary line that led to the Tyrannosaurus.
"Among the theropods, we discover that the Aratasaurus is part of the group called Coelurosaurs, which includes the Brazilian dinosaur found in the same reason, called Santanaraptor, Sayao said.
Sayao added that the Aratasaurus is also part of the "famous Tyrannosaurus, Velociraptors and even the birds of today."
The Potential of the Region
The Nature report said the fossil was found at the base of the Romualdo Formation. It is known to hold well-preserved dinosaur fossils, but the records about it are very few.
It is one of the most fossiliferous places comprising most of fossil vertebrates in the Araripe Basin. The diverse and well-preserved fossil and fauna found in it gave it the designation of Lagerstätte.
The report noted how records on dinosaurs are far less than the potential of the Brazilian region as a whole.
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