Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Edmontonian Discovers New Dinosaur

And no its not the Conservatives though it does bear a striking resemblance to Alberta's very own Ralph-

New discovery dethrones T-rex

U of A paleontologist identifies carnivore bigger than Tyrannosaurus and millions of years older

EDMONTON - A University of Alberta dinosaur hunter has identified one of the largest meat-eating dinosaurs to ever roam the planet, a bloodthirsty beast that hunted in packs in South America and ripped apart much bigger plant-eaters with its razor-sharp teeth and snapping jaw.

Philip Currie, a well-known paleontologist and biological sciences professor at U of A, and Rudolfo Coria, a paleontologist in South America, excavated a group of at least seven of the ferocious predators in red desert sandstone outside Plaza Huincul in Argentina.

The bones are 80 to 90 million years old -- much older than those of the Tyrannosaurus rex, which lived 65 to 70 million years ago in what is now Asia and North America.

"It's always pretty exciting when you realize you're working on a new type of dinosaur," said Currie, who co-authored a paper about the discovery that appears in the spring edition of Geodiversitas, a journal about earth sciences.

"For me, especially, big carnivorous dinosaurs have been one of my passions since I was a kid and found a dinosaur in a cereal box."

A Meat Eater Bigger Than T. Rex Is Unearthed

The discovery, along with other recent ones in Canada, Mongolia and the United States, appeared to support an emerging interpretation of the hunting behavior of predatory dinosaurs. Instead of being solitary hunters, as once thought, they may have operated in groups.

"The presence of so many animals in one quarry," Dr. Currie said in a statement released by the University of Alberta, "suggests that they were living together in a pack at the time leading up to their catastrophic death." Giant dino-predators may have hunted in packs

Meat-Eating Dinosaur Was Bigger Than T. Rex

Other dinosaur experts say the discovery sheds valuable new light on the most fearsome land predators ever known.

Lowell Dingus is an associate paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

"The remarkable remains of Mapusaurus provide another important example of the spectacular kinds of gigantic carnivorous dinosaurs that roamed South America near the end of the age of the dinosaurs," he said.

Mapusaurus belongs to a group of recently recognized theropod dinosaurs called carcharodontosaurs, which have also been found in Africa.

The new species "increases both our knowledge of the anatomy and the diversity of this peculiar group of theropod," said Ronan Allain of the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, France.

Allain says Mapusaurus is more closely related to the Argentinian Giganotosaurus than to the African species.

"It means a South American [carcharodontosaur] lineage could have evolved regardless of the African forms."

He says the other main contender for the title of biggest ever meat-eating dinosaur is Spinosaurus, whose fossil remains come from North Africa.

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