Scientists have discovered a fossil in Argentina thought to belong to one of the last megaraptors on the planet.
Paleontologists from the Argentine Museum of Natural Sciences made the discovery in the southern province of Santa Cruz in March, and announced their findings this week after taking time to study the fossils.
The 70-million-year-old remains included vertebrae, ribs and parts of the dinosaur’s chest and shoulders, with scientists estimating the specimen was approximately 10 metres (33 feet) in length.
If their measurements are correct, the dinosaur would be the largest known megaraptor to date.
Megaraptors are thought to have been nearly three times the size of velociraptors, which could reach almost seven feet in length and weigh between 33 and 43 pounds.
Previously discovered megaraptors are found to have been 26 feet in length and weighed up to 2,200 pounds.
Fernando Novas, the palaeontologist in charge of the project, told megaraptors were defined by their long arms and their thumb, which ended in a claw measuring approximately 40 centimetres (15 inches), used to help them catch prey.
[The claw], added to the enormous development of muscular inserts and the wide ranges of movements between certain elements of the arm, indicate that [the arms were] the main weapon of these dinosaurs during hunting and not their jaws, as occurs in the famous Velociraptor or the Tyrannosaurus rex.
The dinosaurs were slimmer than the Tyrannosaurus rex, and much quicker, with long tails that helped them to keep their balance and muscular, elongated legs which enabled them to take long steps.
Its neck was long. Its skull was low, thin and long. It had teeth which were not too big, different from those of the Tyrannosaurus or the Giganotosaurus. These were small teeth.
Nevertheless, its jaw was armed with these teeth that allowed him to tear into the skin of its prey.
After studying the recently-discovered fossils, experts realised they were looking at the remains of a predatory creature from the end of the ‘age of dinosaurs.’
This is the moment, 65 million years ago, when the extinction of the dinosaurs occurs, and this new megaraptor that we now have to study would be one of the last representatives of this group.
The megaraptor fossil is one of many fossils the palaeontology team discovered during its month-long field work in the south of Argentina.