© Reuters. An artist’s impression of the Cretaceous Period meat-eating dinosaur Llukalkan aliocranianus that lived about 80 million years in the past within the Patagonia area
By Will Dunham
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Scientists in Argentina have unearthed the well-preserved cranium of a meat-eating dinosaur that roamed northern Patagonia about 85 million years in the past – a beast with a brief snout, eager listening to and stout chunk energy that made it a frightening predator.
The dinosaur, named Llukalkan aliocranianus, measured roughly 16 ft (5 meters) lengthy and was a member of a carnivorous group known as abelisaurids that prospered in South America and different components of Earth’s Southern Hemisphere through the Cretaceous Period, researchers mentioned on Tuesday.
Llukalkan, which means “one who causes fear” within the native native Mapuche language, could have competed immediately towards a cousin that was equally spectacular and barely bigger. Only about 700 yards (meters) away from the place Llukalkan’s fossilized cranium was discovered, scientists beforehand had dug up the stays of one other meat-eating dinosaur known as Viavenator exxoni.
Both had been abelisaurids, a gaggle of two-legged predators with quick skulls, sharp and serrated tooth, extraordinarily quick arms with tiny fingers and heads generally that includes uncommon ridges and small horns. Abelisaurids usually had been medium-sized in comparison with large carnivorous dinosaurs comparable to Tyrannosaurus rex, which lived in North America roughly 15 million years after Llukalkan, and Giganotosaurus, which lived in Patagonia about 15 million years earlier than Llukalkan.
“Yes, it is very unusual to find two abelisaurids that lived in the same locality and at approximately the same time,” mentioned paleontologist Federico Gianechini of Argentina’s National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET) and the National University of San Luis, lead creator of the examine revealed within the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.
“Llukalkan was a little smaller than Viavenator, although, if they lived together, they surely shared the same ecological niche and fed on the same prey, so they would have competed with each other and – why not – even eaten each other,” Gianechini added. “Today, predators of different species but from the same family co-exist in the same ecosystem, such as lions, leopards and cheetahs.”
Llukalkan’s cranium measured about 20 inches (50 cm) lengthy. A big share of the cranial bones had been discovered, together with a properly preserved braincase.
“A peculiarity of this dinosaur is that it has cavities in the ear area that other abelisaurids did not have, which could have given this species different auditory capacities, possibly a greater hearing range,” Gianechini mentioned.
“The good preservation allowed us to make studies of the internal part of the braincase through tomography and thus infer the shape of the brain,” Gianechini added.
Llukalkan had a strong chunk, based mostly on the musculature of its jaws, and its tooth might tear flesh from its prey. Unlike some abelisaurids, its cranium was not bumpy.
No bones from the remainder of its physique had been discovered, although the researchers have a good suggestion of its physique plan based mostly on different abelisaurids. They estimate Llukalkan weighed between one and 5 tons.
Patagonia has produced necessary dinosaur finds in latest many years. Llukalkan’s discovery permits for a deeper understanding of northern Patagonia’s ecosystems through the Cretaceous, the ultimate chapter of the dinosaur age. Llukalkan inhabited a semi-arid setting with a seasonal local weather, searching quite a lot of plant-eating dinosaurs.