Fossil Bone Reveals How Big Carnivorous Dinosaurs Could Grow

Posted: Mar 1 2016, 11:00pm CST | by , Updated: Mar 2 2016, 8:37pm CST, in News | Latest Science News


Fossil Bone Reveals How Big Carnivorous Dinosaurs Could Grow
Credit: Imperial College London

Researchers looked at an unidentified forgotten bone to determine the peak size of dinosaurs.

An unidentified forgotten bone sheds new light on how big carnivorous dinosaurs were.

Students from Imperial College London found a discarded upper hindlimb bone in a dusty drawer of an Italian museum and examined it thoroughly since it was not identified previously. The bone was from a dinosaur called abelisaur, which supposedly terrorized the world 95 million years ago during the late Cretaceous period. 

The giant predator belonged to carnivorous dinosaur, a group of dinosaur who had powerfully muscled hind limbs, razor sharp teeth and small forelimbs. Researchers suspect that it also had feather all over its body.

The upper hindlimb bone is ideal to evaluate the overall size of a body because the bone is linked to thigh and tail muscles and has bumps in it which reflect where the muscles were attached and how big those muscles would have been.

After analyzing the bone, researchers estimated that the dinosaur would have been 9 meters (almost 30 feet) long and weighed 1 to 2 tons, making it possibly the largest abelisaur ever known. This assessment could help researchers to determine the maximum size that a dinosaur may have reached during its peak.

“Smaller abelisaur fossils have been previously found by paleontologists, but this find shows how truly these flesh eating predators had become,” said co-researcher Alfio Alessandro Chiarenza. “There appearance may have looked a bit odd as they probably covered in feathers with tiny, useless forelimbs, but make no mistake they were fearsome killers in their time.”

The fossil bone was originally excavated from sedimentary rocks in Morocco called Kem Kem Bed. The region is arid today but at that time it would have been a lush tropical world with rivers and swaps and must have provided ideal conditions for abelisaur for hunting as the region was abundant in animals like crocodiles, turtles, large fish and other dinosaurs. 

Researchers also suggest that abelisaur and their predatory cousins might have shared the same land region but they did not co-exist so closely together. They were distant from each other.

“The fossil find, along with the accumulated wealth of previous studies, is helping to solve the question of whether abelisaurs may have co-existed with a range of other predators in the same region,” said Chiarenza. “Rather than sharing the same environment, which the jumbled up fossil records may be leading us to believe, we think these creatures probably lived far away from one another in different types of environments.” 

These findings came from forgotten fossil bone in a museum and co-author Andrea Cau says. “Our study shows how museums still play an important role in preserving specimens of primary scientific value, in which sometimes the most unexpected surprises can be discovered.” 

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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