Rio de Janeiro, Jul 10 (efe-epa).- A fossil from a specimen belonging to a previously unknown dinosaur species was presented here Friday at Brazil’s National Museum.
The 115-million-old fragment, identified as the right hind limb of a juvenile exemplar, was found 12 years ago in a quarry near the town of Santana do Cariri in the northeastern state of Ceara.
The new theropod was dubbed Aratasaurus museunacionali. The first part of the name represents a combination of two words from the indigenous Tupi language – “ara” (born) and “ata” (fire) – with the Greek “saurus” (lizard). The second element refers to Museu Nacional/Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s oldest scientific institution.
Based on the examination of the limb, scientists estimate the young Aratasaurus was about 3.12m (10.22ft) long and weighed up to 34.25kg (75.44lbs).
Study of the fossil was a joint effort of the Federal University of Pernambuco, the National Museum and the Regional University of Cariri.
The team said that further investigation of Aratasaurus will advance understanding of the evolution of theropods, a class of carnivorous dinosaurs whose genetic legacy survives in birds.
“Among the theropods, we discover that the Aratasaurus is part of the group called Coelurosaurs, which includes the Brazilian dinosaur found in the same reason, called Santanaraptor, as well as the famous Tyrannosaurus, Velociraptors and even the birds of today,” paleontologist Juliana Sayao said during Friday’s event in Rio.
Before scientists could study the fossil, they had to chip away the surrounding rock, a lengthy and painstaking process.
After undergoing extensive analysis at the universities in Pernambuco and Cariri, the fragment was brought to the National Museum in 2016, two years before the institution suffered a devastating fire that consumed a substantial portion of its roughly 20 million items.
Fortunately, the flames did not reach the area where the fossil was kept.
And though it’s only a fragment, the fossil includes a foot, which turned out to reveal many anatomical differences between Aratasaurus and other Coelusaurs, according to the team.
One thing the scientists determined based on the structure of the foot and digits was that Aratasaurus was part of an evolutionary line older than the one that led to the Tyrannosaurus. EFE mat/dr