One of the most dangerous prehistoric ecosystems in the world has just added another huge predator to its range. In the Bahariya Formation, a famous fossil site in Egypt Sahara desertA team of Egyptian and American paleontologists recently discovered a huge fossil vertebra belonging to a newly described species of carnivorous abelisaurid – a two-legged, carnivorous group that lived during the Cretaceous (145 million to 66 million years ago).
Like other abelisaurids, the newly discovered dinosaur had a short, bulldog-like face. And despite his ferocious appearance, this predator was probably not the biggest and worst boss roaming his pounding places.
“About 99% of us are sure that, unlike some of his relatives from other times and places, this particular abelisauride was no at the top of its food chain, “said Matthew Lamana, a paleontologist at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh and one of the researchers who discovered the dinosaur, he said in an email to Live Science.
Connected: The crocodile-faced dinosaur may have been the largest predator in Europe
Although Lamana and his fellow scientists found only one bone, they were able to identify fossils such as abelisaurid vertebrae almost immediately, based on distinctive structures called the pituitary gland. This is a multi-syllable word that basically means “sticky bits in the upper left and upper right corners of the vertebrae,” Lamana said. bone, the team concluded that it belonged to a hitherto unknown species that had not yet been given a scientific name, and published their findings on June 8 in the journal Royal Society Open Science (opens in a new section).
An abelisauride looked a bit like a heavy set T-Rex, only with even firmer hands, Smithsonian Magazine (opens in a new section) reported. They have been orbiting the Southern Hemisphere since the mid-Jurassic period, about 170 million years ago, until the asteroid Chixulub stopped the Cretaceous. Perhaps the most famous abelisauride is the horned one carnotaurus, Patagonian predator, which reaches 25 feet (7.6 meters) in length, according to Natural History Museum in London (opens in a new section). Its name is derived from the Latin words for “flesh” and “bull”, and animated versions of this fearsome predator appear in Apple TV’s “Prehistoric Planet” and in the Jurassic Park franchise (although its images show varying degrees of scientific accuracy).
(opens in a new section)
Researchers suspect that the newly discovered abelisauride was smaller than carnotaurusprobably reaching only 16 to 20 feet (5 to 6 meters) in length. And compared to predators that shared their native habitat 98 million years ago, the newly discovered abelisaurid would be a relative squeak.
The Bahariya Formation used to be home to a uniquely predatory part of prehistoric life. This once huge mangrove swamp has hosted many species of fish, turtles, snakes and dinosaurs. The newly discovered abelisauride would rub elbows (metaphorically speaking) with a T. rex resemble, known as Carcharodontosaurus; mysterious giant theropod (bipeds, three-toed dinosaurs). Bahariasaurus; the monstrous Spinosauruswho had long and slender crocodile jaws and a canvas growing from his back; and giant predatory fish and crocodiles.
Finding so many large predators living together in an ecosystem is rare, Lamana said. “How this 98-million-year-old environment managed to sustain not one but four massive predatory dinosaurs remains a puzzle,” he added.
The newly described fossil is now stored in the permanent collection of the Center for Paleontology of Vertebrates at Mansoura University in Egypt. In the future, Lamana and his co-authors plan to return to the Bahariya formation and look for more bones from their abelisauride – and perhaps even give it a name.
“I hope more of this Bahariya beast appears sooner or later,” Lamana said.
Originally published in Live Science.