Science

Dinosaurs: 16ft long beast roamed Brazil 70 million years ago

A new species of dinosaur that was 16ft long and roamed Brazil 70 million years ago has been unearthed by palaeontologists. 

The terrifying predator, named Kurupi itaata by researchers, had tiny arms, a rigid tail and was well adapted to running, fossil analysis revealed.

Its remains were found in Monte Alto, a municipality in the state of São Paulo that is one of Brazil’s richest sites for dinosaur discoveries. 

 A new species of dinosaur that was 16ft long and roamed Brazil 70 million years ago has been unearthed by researchers. The predator (pictured) has been named Kurupi itaata

It had a rigid tail and was well adapted to running, fossil analysis revealed. Pictured is the dinosaur's first caudal vertebra

It had a rigid tail and was well adapted to running, fossil analysis revealed. Pictured is the dinosaur’s first caudal vertebra

THE ABELISAURIDS

Abelisauridae were a striking family of theropod dinosaurs averaging 16 to 30 feet long that prowled mainly in Patagonia and other areas of the ancient southern supercontinent Gondwana.

Gondwana is recognised today as Africa, South America, Australia, Antarctica, the Indian subcontinent and the Arabian Peninsula.   

While abelisaurids resembled T-Rex in general appearance with tiny stubby arms, they had unusually short, deep skulls which often bore crests, bumps, and horns. 

When Tyrannosaurus and its relatives roamed North America and Asia, the abelisaurids occupied a similar niche in Patagonia and other areas of South America.

Abelisaurids had huge jaws. Just like T-Rex, they relied on them to crush and kill prey.

But abelisaurids had even tinier arms than the tyrannosaurs. 

The new species is a type of abelisaurid, small-armed dinosaurs that thrived on the ancient southern supercontinent Gondwana. 

Abelisaurids were the dominant predators in the southern hemisphere, around the same time that tyrannosaurids roamed North America and Asia.

They were part of the wider theropod clade of massive bipedal meat-eaters with sharp grasping claws. 

While abelisaurids resembled T-Rex in general appearance with tiny stubby arms, they had unusually short, deep skulls which often bore crests, bumps, and horns. 

Palaeontologists first found an isolated theropod pelvis during an excavation in 2002, before a number of further discoveries of bones were made.

Dr Fabiano Vidoi Iori, from the Museu de Paleontologia, said: ‘The bones found were the pelvic bone, three vertebrae, and some that we have not yet identified. 

‘A phylogenetic analysis was done with those (pieces) we identified, which then identified which species the animal belonged to, and also allowed us to see that it was a new animal.’

The researchers also looked at whether the bones had any trample marks, abrasions, weathering or tooth marks.

Their findings suggest the dinosaur’s body remained on the Earth’s surface for a short time before it was eventually buried. 

There were also no signs of abrasions, meaning Kurupi itaata’s bones were not moved far from the place it died to where they were found.  

Researchers said the size of the pelvic girdle suggested it was a medium-sized abelisaurid. 

The dinosaur’s muscle attachments and bone anatomy also indicated that it was well adapted to running, they added.  

Its remains were found in Monte Alto (pictured), a municipality in the state of São Paulo that is one of Brazil's richest sites for dinosaur discoveries

Its remains were found in Monte Alto (pictured), a municipality in the state of São Paulo that is one of Brazil’s richest sites for dinosaur discoveries

Researchers said the size of the pelvic girdle suggested it was a medium-sized abelisaurid

Researchers said the size of the pelvic girdle suggested it was a medium-sized abelisaurid

This images shows another view of the Kurupi itaata species' first caudal vertebra

This images shows another view of the Kurupi itaata species’ first caudal vertebra

‘It is possible to infer that in Kurupi such muscles were robust, and could give to the species the ability to cover a large area in search of prey and water in the hostile scenario of the Maastrichtian in the Marília Formation,’ the authors wrote in the paper.

They said the species lived in an arid environment with little rainfall, along with Peirosaurid crocodyliforms — dog-like carnivores that were diverse and abundant on the Gondwanan landmasses during the Cretaceous period. 

Researchers said the name Kurupi refers to a legendary monster of the Guarani indigenous culture, God of fertility and sexuality. 

‘The choice of the name is due to the fact that the fossils were found in the region of “Motel Paraíso” (“Paradise Motel”), a place intended for intimate encounters,’ they wrote in their paper. 

Researchers believe the dinosaur's body remained on the Earth's surface for a short time before it was eventually buried

Researchers believe the dinosaur’s body remained on the Earth’s surface for a short time before it was eventually buried

There were also no signs of abrasions, meaning Kurupi itaata's bones (pictured) were not moved far from the place it died to where they were found

There were also no signs of abrasions, meaning Kurupi itaata’s bones (pictured) were not moved far from the place it died to where they were found

Monte Alto, in the state of São Paulo, is one of Brazil's richest sites for dinosaur discoveries

Monte Alto, in the state of São Paulo, is one of Brazil’s richest sites for dinosaur discoveries

Itaata comes from the indigenous language Tupi and has two roots: ita for rock and atã for hard, alluding to the very cemented rocks of the Marília Formation at the Monte Alto regions. 

A model of the Kurupi Itaata will now go on display at Monte Alto’s Museum of Paleontology. 

Earlier this week it was revealed that a 29ft-long dinosaur was one of two recently discovered species that roamed what is now the Isle of Wight 125 million years ago

The remains of the carnivorous reptiles, about the same length as a Stegosaurus but with crocodile-like skulls, were found on the beach near Brighstone on the island.

The pair were identified as new, previously undescribed dinosaur species by palaeontologists from the University of Southampton. 

This new discovery of Kurupi itaata is described in the Journal of South American Earth Sciences.

KILLING OFF THE DINOSAURS: HOW A CITY-SIZED ASTEROID WIPED OUT 75 PER CENT OF ALL ANIMAL AND PLANT SPECIES

Around 66 million years ago non-avian dinosaurs were wiped out and more than half the world’s species were obliterated.

This mass extinction paved the way for the rise of mammals and the appearance of humans.

The Chicxulub asteroid is often cited as a potential cause of the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event.

The asteroid slammed into a shallow sea in what is now the Gulf of Mexico.

The collision released a huge dust and soot cloud that triggered global climate change, wiping out 75 per cent of all animal and plant species.

Researchers claim that the soot necessary for such a global catastrophe could only have come from a direct impact on rocks in shallow water around Mexico, which are especially rich in hydrocarbons.

Within 10 hours of the impact, a massive tsunami waved ripped through the Gulf coast, experts believe.

Around 66 million years ago non-avian dinosaurs were wiped out and more than half the world's species were obliterated. The Chicxulub asteroid is often cited as a potential cause of the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event (stock image)

Around 66 million years ago non-avian dinosaurs were wiped out and more than half the world’s species were obliterated. The Chicxulub asteroid is often cited as a potential cause of the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event (stock image)

This caused earthquakes and landslides in areas as far as Argentina. 

While investigating the event researchers found small particles of rock and other debris that was shot into the air when the asteroid crashed.

Called spherules, these small particles covered the planet with a thick layer of soot.

Experts explain that losing the light from the sun caused a complete collapse in the aquatic system.

This is because the phytoplankton base of almost all aquatic food chains would have been eliminated.

It’s believed that the more than 180 million years of evolution that brought the world to the Cretaceous point was destroyed in less than the lifetime of a Tyrannosaurus rex, which is about 20 to 30 years.

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