Two new supersized dinos come to light
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.