Two new su­per­sized dinos come to light

Cosmos - - Digest -

Palaeon­tol­o­gists re­veal a mam­moth croc and a plant- eat­ing tank.

Should Steven Spiel­berg be hunt­ing around for fresh species to put in the next in­stall­ment of his Juras­sic Park fran­chise, two new can­di­dates have been re­vealed in the past cou­ple of months.

Pa­le­on­tol­o­gists work­ing in Mada­gas­car an­nounced the dis­cov­ery of a pre­vi­ously un­known 165 mil­lion-year-old preda­tor known as Razanan­dron­gobe sakalavae.

Work­ing only from some teeth and jaw frag­ments, sci­en­tists led by Cris­tiano Dal Sasso from Italy’s Museo di Sto­ria Nat­u­rale di Mi­lano es­tab­lished that the crea­ture was croc­o­dile-like and had teeth sim­i­lar to those of Tyran­nosaurus rex. In a pa­per in the jour­nal Peerj, they de­scribe it as “gi­gan­tic”.

In Au­gust, an­other team de­scribed a re­mark­ably pre­served an­i­mal found in Al­berta, Canada, which they called the “di­nosaur equiv­a­lent of a tank”.

Dubbed Bo­re­alopelta mark­mitchelli, the 5.5 me­tre, 1.2 tonne beast was a her­bi­vore, and roamed the Earth about 100 mil­lion years old (which tech­ni­cally, yes, is the Cre­ta­ceous rather than the Juras­sic pe­riod, but it would still look good in a movie).

B. mark­mitchelli , a type of dino known as no­dosaur, boasted mas­sive ar­mour plates on its back and sides. De­spite this, and de­spite weigh­ing as much as a Ford Fo­cus, re­searchers led by Don­ald Hen­der­son, cu­ra­tor at Al­berta’s Royal Tyrrell Mu­seum, dis­cov­ered it also had pro­tec­tive colour­ing, known as coun­ter­shad­ing, in­di­cat­ing its need to hide it­self from even larger, and hun­grier, di­nosaurs.

So beau­ti­fully pre­served is the an­i­mal that it is easy to imag­ine it is sim­ply sleep­ing peace­fully. One sci­en­tist has even de­scribed it as the “Mona Lisa of di­nosaurs”.

A palaeoartis­tic restora­tion of the head of Razanan­dron­gobe sakalavae. CREDIT: FABIO MANUCCI

The Bo­re­alopelta mark­mitchelli fos­sil.

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