A forgotten dinosaur bone was discovered in a dusty drawer of an Italian museum. The bone belonged to an Abelisaur specimen and when re-examined, it brought new insights on the actual size these predators could reach.
The study was published on Monday in the journal Peer J. It was a partially preserved femur bone of a large-bodied abelisaur originally discovered in Morocco, in an area called Kem Kem Beds.
“I simply stumbled upon a drawer with some specimens,” says coauthor Alfio Allesandro Chiarenza, a PhD student in paleontology at Imperial College London, in a telephone interview with The Christian Science Monitor. “This femur called my attention because I recognized dinosaur features – especially carnivorous dinosaur features.”
The abelisaur comes from a large family of theropod dinosaurs which inhabited Earth during the Middle Jurassic to the Cretaceous period, around 170 million years ago. They lived in the southern hemisphere, what is now South America, Asia, Africa, France and Australia.
Researchers calculated that the predator weighed almost two metric tons, and stretched almost 30 feet in length. If these measurements are correct, this would be the largest abelisaur ever discovered.
The abelisaur was similar to the tyrannosaur: Tiny and useless forelimbs but large skulls and strong jaws with extremely sharp teeth. According to what Chiarenza said in a press release, although abelisaurs were massive flesh-eating dinosaurs, they may have looked a bit odd since they were likely covered in feathers.
The fossil is housed in the Museo Geologico e Paleontologico “Gaetano Giorgio Gemmellaro” in Palermo.