Home Science “Ghost hunter” dinosaur fossil helps to understand the Cretaceous

“Ghost hunter” dinosaur fossil helps to understand the Cretaceous

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posted on 10/24/2020 17:06

(credit: Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle)

A fossil located in a region close to the municipality of Coração de Jesus (MG) can help in understanding about dinosaurs that lived on the planet from 65 to 145 million years ago. Found by researchers linked to the Zoology Museum of the University of São Paulo (USP) and to the Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio, from Argentina, the species was named Spectrovenator ragei (ghost hunter) and belongs to the theropod family Abelisauridae, who lived in the Cretaceous period, the last of the Mesozoic era.

As the team of scientists details in an article published in the periodical Comptes Rendus Palevol, available in English, the family of the abelissaurids played a central role among predators during the final stretch of the Cretaceous period. The researchers point out that the specimen found is of enormous value because it is rare. According to them, although it is easier to rescue well-preserved materials from the final stage of that period, there are few intact remains that allow a study of previous cycles. Thus, the understanding of how the line of abelissaurids developed over time is limited, since part of the references about the initial phases ends up being lost.

The skeleton recovered in the interior of Minas Gerais was practically complete, so that the researchers were able to collect it as a single block. Part of the skeleton, described in the article, was partially prepared during the fieldwork, while the rest of the rock matrix was later removed at the Paleontology Laboratory at the Zoology Museum at USP.

One of the most striking characteristics of the abelissaurids is the pair of very small forelimbs. Another aspect that distinguished them was the fact that they have one of the most specialized cranial structures among carnivorous dinosaurs, with a wide skull, high occipital region and highly kinetic intramandibular joint.

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