Skull of Dinosaur Named 'One Who Causes Fear' Found in Argentina
Considered one of the top predators among dinosaurs, the scientist, who found a well-preserved skull of a horned "Llukalkan aliocranianus" dinosaur in Argentina, have named the ancient beast the "one who causes fear."
Citing a new study published on Tuesday about the discovery, USA Today said the dinosaur's full name comes from the native Mapuche language Llukalkan, which means the "one who causes fear" - and aliocranianus is Latin for "different skull."
The newly discovered species of a meat-eating dinosaur, which roamed in South America 85 million years ago, was around 5 meters (16 feet) long, weighing between one and five tonnes.
And like the Tyrannosaurus rex, the Llukalkan dinosaur was two-legged with very short arms but was smaller than the giant T. rex. This elephant-sized dinosaur also has tiny fingers and short horns, according to the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
A Top Predator Among Dinosaurs
Because of its formidable size, very sharp teeth, powerful bite, huge claws, and keen sense of hearing and smell, scientists said the Llukalkan aliocranianus was "likely among the top predators" across Patagonia, now in Argentina, during the Late Cretaceous Period.
In a statement, the study's lead author Federico Gianechini, who is a paleontologist at the National University of San Luis, Argentina, said the discovery is important since it suggests that the diversity and abundance of abelisaurids were remarkable, not just across Patagonia but also in many local areas during "the dinosaurs' twilight period."
Abelisauridae was a striking family of theropod dinosaurs averaging five to nine meters long that roamed and hunted mainly in Patagonia and other ancient southern subcontinent Gondwana areas, which is known today as South America, Africa, India, Australia, and Antarctica.
So far, only 10 species of this fearsome predator have been unearthed across Patagonia. The Northern Hemisphere was ruled by famed tyrannosaurs some 80 million years ago, and this newly named lookalike flourished in the southern continents.
Gianechini earlier told Reuters that one of the unusual features of the Llukalkan dinosaur was that it has cavities in the ear area that other abelisaurids did not have. He noted that this peculiarity gave this species a greater hearing range that made it a "better hunter."
The study showed that the carnivorous dinosaur had a strange, short skull with rough bones, indicating it had bulges and prominences on its head similar to some modern iguanas and other reptiles, such as the Gila monster, BBC reported.
The fossilized remains of the Llukalkan dinosaur, which included a preserved and uncrushed braincase, were discovered in 2015 by accident in La Invernada, near Rincón de los Sauces city in Neuquén Province.
Gianechini said the dig was only to unearth a large, plant-eating sauropod dinosaur they had found a year earlier. However, he noted that they noticed other bones protruding from the ground a few days before they finished their excavation.
The study showed that Llukalkan's adaptations' fossil evidence suggests that abelisaurids flourished right before the dinosaurs became extinct.
The co-author of the study, Ariel Mendez from the Patagonian Institute of Geology and Palaeontology in Argentina, said these dinosaurs were still trying out new evolutionary routes and still rapidly diversifying right before they died out completely, Sky News reported.
But despite this new finding, scientists and researchers believe that there is still a lot to unearth. Reports said dinosaur extinction was caused by the impact of a massive asteroid or comet.
WATCH: Dinosaur Discovery: Top Predator That Roamed South America Named One Who Causes - From Nonstop News
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