Scientist in Patagonia, Argentina, discovered on Tuesday a well-preserved fossil of the skull of a dinosaur, which they called Sarmientosaurus Musacchioi, a new species of titanosaurian dinosaur. The study was published on April 26, 2016, in the journal PLOS ONE.
Rubén Martínez from the Laboratorio de Paleovertebrados of the Universidad Nacional de la Patagonia San Juan Bosco, the scientist who published the study, based on the complete skull and partial neck fossil found, which is important for the scientific community since, before this finding, only 4 out of 60 titanosaurs fossils found were semi-complete skulls. This is why the new finding is considered extremely rare.
The scientists used computerized tomography (CT) imaging, which helped them fully study the anatomically ‘primitive’ skull and neck fossils from Sarmientosaurus.
The new species of the titanosaurs
The titanosaurs are a type of sauropod who were as big as a sperm whale and weighted as much as a cow. These dinosaurs were plant-eaters who had long necks and tails and, probably, may have been the most common large herbivores in the Southern Hemisphere during the Cretaceous.
The Sarmientosaurus Musacchioi, due to what the skull shows, it had a droopy head, because its brain was extremely small compared to its body, it was like the size of a lime. Its posture was revealed by the orientation of its inner ear. The dinosaur was 50 feet long and weighed around 12 tons.
The creature is around 95 million years ago, and the discovery also shows that it had large eyes, which means that, in theory, it had a better eyesight than other titanosaurs. Its inner ear, according to the research, it was suited for picking up low frequencies, which suggests that it may have used low, rumbling calls to communicate with its own kind, as well as to feed with low-growing plants.
The skull reveals details on the structure, more specifically on the face, that are associated with more primitive dinosaurs.
“Discoveries like Sarmientosaurus happen once in a lifetime,” says study leader Rubén Martínez. “That’s why we studied the fossils so thoroughly, to learn as much about this amazing animal as we could.”
Sarmientosaurus musacchioi is named for the town of Sarmiento in Chubut Province, which is close to the discovery site.
Source: PLOS ONE