New species of megaraptorid dinosaur discovered in Patagonia

As per a study appeared on July 20, 2016 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE, a latest species of megaraptorid dinosaur found in Patagonia could be helpful in distinguishing between the evolutionary origins of the megaraptorid clade.

In the past, the Patagonian area of Argentina has proven to be affluent in fossils from the Late Cretaceous era, like numerous megaraptorids, a clade whose carnivorous diet led to their name, which means 'giant thieves'.

The medium-sized theropod dinosaurs such as South American genera Megaraptor, Orkoraptor, and Aerosteon and genera from Australia and Japan have notably huge claws and birdlike bones filled with air.

In the study, lead by Rodolfo Coria from the Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas Técnicas, Argentina, and Phillip Currie from the University of Alberta, Canada, the researchers have examined the fossilized partial skeleton of a megaraptorid dinosaur, found in Sierra Barrosa. The dinosaur’s discovery has represented one of the most intact megaraptorids found, with a strangely undamaged braincase.

The dinosaur with strange skull features has been dubbed Murusraptor barrosaensis, and it is a new species in the megaraptorid clade. The specimen apparently has an immature outlook, but the authors said that the species was bigger and slenderer in comparison to Megaraptor and has nearly same size as that of Aerosteon and Orkoraptor.

Besides sharing numerous features with the other species, Musuraptor possesses different facial features that haven’t been seen earlier amongst megaraptorids. The new species also have strangely shaped hip bones.

The phylogenetic study may not clearly find out evolutionary relationships, the authors noted that the fossils have shed light on fresh anatomical data, which might be helpful in resolving the existing debates over whether the ‘megaraptorids are a clade of the allosauroid or the coelurosaurid theropods’.