The new species named Sarmientosaurus had a droopy small head compared to its enormous body, but its senses were super strong.
Scientists have discovered a new species of humongous plant-eating titanosaurian dinosaur in Argentina.
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The newfound dinosaur, which has been officially given the name Sarmientosaurus musacchioi, had a small head yet exceptional sensing abilities that were not observed even in its more evolved relatives.
Titanosaurs were incredibly long-necked and long-tailed dinosaurs that lived about 95 million years ago during the Cretaceous period but their fossils were rarely found before.
“Our understanding of the animal has been really hampered by its headlessness.” Study co-author Matthew Lamanna told Live Science.
“When you’ve got a river system or any kind of environment where the water is moving quickly enough to transport enough sediment to bury one of these behemoths in time for it to be relatively well preserved, oftentimes, currents of that magnitude are probably going to wash away pretty small and delicate structures, such as heads.”
The fossil of sarmientosaurus which consist of complete skull and partial neck is one of those few nearly complete titanosaur fossils that have been recovered in the past and is so well-preserved that it is bound to reveal new details about titanosaurian dinosaurs. The newly discovered fossils are very precious for getting clues about dinosaurs. In fact, there are 60 known groups of titanosuar and only four well preserved skulls have been discovered until now.
Researchers used computerized tomography (CT) imaging to examine the fossil remains. They found that the giant dinosaur had large eyeballs which are an indication of big eyes and a good vision. Its head was small in relation to its enormous body but its hearing and sensing abilities were sharper than most other dinosaurs of the group. The animal even had an inner ear designed to detect low frequency airborne sounds.
The balance organ in inner ear suggests that the dinosaur had a droopy head. It may be used to keep its head and neck downward, possibly to munch on low-growing plants.
“Discoveries like Sarmientosaurus happen once in a lifetime,” said lead researcher Rubén Martínez. "That's why we studied the fossils so thoroughly, to learn as much about this amazing animal as we could.”