The fossil is one of ten species of abelisaurus that proliferated on the southern continents, at the time when tyrannosaurs thrived in the Northern Hemisphere, and would be “among the main predators” in Patagonia during the Upper Cretaceous period, the researchers say.
The thesis is based on the size of the dinosaur, which could reach five meters in length, and its powerful jaw, sharp teeth and huge claws on its feet. The researchers believe he could also have a very keen sense of smell.
The skull of Llukalkan, which means “the one who gets scared”, was short and with rough bones, so his head should show protuberances and prominences like some modern reptiles.
The composition of the skull suggests, says the article published on the discovery, that the species had better hearing than most other abelisauros, quite similar to that of current crocodiles.
O Llukalkan aliocranianus, whose name comes from the native Mapuche language – “the one who scares” (Llukalkan) – and Latin – “different skull” (aliocranianus) – would have lived in the same area and period of time as another abelisaurus (hard-backed lizard), the “Viavenator exxoni”, just a few million years before the end of the dinosaur era.
Fossil remains of the two species were found just 700 meters from the geological formation of Bajo de la Carpa, near the famous La Invernada fossil deposit in Argentina.
“This is a particularly important discovery because it suggests that the diversity and abundance of abelisaurs was remarkable, not only in Patagonia but also in more local areas during the period of prosperity of the dinosaurs,” said the paleontologist at the National University of San Juan and lead author. of the study, Federico Gianechini.
Abelisaurs were a dominant family of theropod dinosaurs (bipedal and with feet with three toes), with an average length of between five and nine meters, which proliferated mainly in Patagonia and other areas of the southern supercontinent Gondwana, which incorporated Africa, India, Antarctica , Australia and South America.
By analyzing the fossils found, the experts concluded that the new species was moving vertically on its hind limbs, and its enormous claws would be used to quarantine prey. It had a powerful bite and very sharp teeth with which it trapped its catches, moving quickly thanks to its powerful hind legs.
Regardless of how it may have lived, the fossil remains found suggest that the abelisauros were expanding just before the extinction of the dinosaurs.
Despite the importance of the discovery, it means that there is still much more to discover, according to the researchers.
“It suggests that there are probably more abelissaurs that we haven’t found yet, so we are still looking for other species,” said Federico Gianechini.
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