Dinosaur fossils found in Argentina could belong to the largest creature ever to have walked the Earth
A team of researchers with Naturales y Museo, Universidad de Zaragoza and Universidad Nacional del Comahue has found evidence that suggests the remains of a dinosaur discovered in Argentina in 2012 may represent a creature that was the largest ever to walk the Earth.
In their paper published in the journal Cretaceous Research, the group describes the fossilized remains that have been found so far and what they have revealed.
The largest creature ever to live is believed to be the blue whale—the largest of which grow to 33.6 meters long.
The biggest land creatures are believed to have been the dinosaurs—of them, the titanosaur (as their name suggests) is believed to be the largest.
And of those, Argentinosaurus represents the largest that left enough evidence for it to be classified the heaviest—at approximately 36.5 meters in length and weighing in at a hundred tons, it would have dwarfed today’s land animals by a considerable amount.
Researchers studying Patagotitan fossils (another titanosaur found in Patagonia) have suggested some of them might have broken the record for the largest, but there was insufficient fossil evidence to prove it.
In either case, the researchers studying the new remains have begun to believe that they have found an even bigger titanosaur.
Thus far, the dinosaur has been dated back to 98 million years ago (putting it in the Late Jurassic to the early Cretaceous).
The fossils found include 24 vertebrae, all belonging to a giant tail, parts of a pelvis and a pectoral girdle.
The huge size of each suggests the dinosaur was a very large titanosaur—one that might be bigger than Argentinosaurus. That claim cannot be confirmed, however, until leg bones are found. Their size will allow the researchers to make estimates of the animals’ body weight.
Titanosaurs belong to the sauropod family, which means they were herbivores, had massive bodies and long necks and tails.
Such dinosaurs would have had few worries from meat-eating enemies if they managed to grow to full size.
Their fossils have been found on all continents except Antarctica. The researchers conclude by noting that more digging in the area will likely reveal more fossils from the same dinosaur and perhaps evidence of its true size.
Giants and beings of unknown origin were recorded by the ancients
Found in many regions of the world, cave paintings have been a valuable source of information for understanding the lifestyle and beliefs of early humans. Some depict scenarios that are fairly simple to understand, such as men hunting or entire families in a village.
The cave paintings discovered on the Tassili n’Ajjer plateau in southern Algeria, are a major conundrum for scholars.
They sketched what they observed, assuming that ancient humans did not have the ability to imagine such art: “One of the images appears to portray an extraterrestrial pursuing human being towards an oval object, comparable to a small spaceship.”
To see up close what many consider to be the world’s finest museum of prehistoric art, visitors must journey to the parched plains of the Sahara desert. Specifically in southern Algeria, 700 metres above sea level, is the Tassili plateau.
It is feasible to reach one of the earliest sources of information on ancient terrestrial life by traversing many cliffs. Years of wear and tear, as well as the strong forces of nature, have rendered the road nearly inaccessible. Rock formations that resemble enormous stone sentinels may be seen.
It is precisely in this location where caverns and more caves, with around 1,500 cave paintings dating from 10 to 15 thousand years, come into play.
Some paintings make sense, but others are enthralling, leaving you to ponder the true meaning for hours on end. First and foremost, everything discovered in this remote location supports what was originally thought about the Sahara Desert: this location was once bustling with life. A diverse range of plant and animal species coexisted in this area, as well as in many other parts of Africa and the world.
The patterns on ledges and rocks appear to imply that flowers, olive groves, cypresses, and other species grew in a fertile and vibrant environment. Furthermore, the current wildlife included antelopes, lions, ostriches, elephants, and rivers teeming with crocodiles. Unquestionably, a totally different scenario than what is now occurring in the Sahara.
Similarly, human beings can be seen in their daily activities in over a thousand primitive depictions discovered in Tassili.
Men hunting, swimming, and farming, as well as other routine activities in an archaic civilization. Nothing out of the ordinary for numerous experts and scholars who have visited this genuine book of stones.
Now, there are certain fascinating aspects that even the most sceptical brains can detect. To begin with, the tonality of the paintings is considerably more diverse than that which was typically used at that period. The rock art scenes from the same time period are not as vibrant as those seen here.
The images that appear to portray creatures wearing helmets and diving suits, quite similar to current astronauts, are the most stunning and difficult to accept. Furthermore, other pictures depict humanoids with enormous round heads and excessively large limbs.
Everything appears to imply that these strange and perplexing artworks show that creatures from other worlds visited our planet in the distant past. It is thought that primitive humans were unable to envision this type of art. Instead, they just sketched what they saw, which became part of their memories.
This entire collection of cave paintings might be the oldest evidence of a meeting between mankind and creatures from other worlds. In fact, one of the photos appears to depict a group of aliens escorting several people towards an oval object like a small spaceship.
Some experts who have visited the site believe that the early painters witnessed something unusual and left pictorial proof of it. These depictions of creatures with huge round heads are of ‘Tassili’s gods of unknown origin.’
The first dinosaurs may have laid soft eggs without hard shells
The new finding forces scientists to rethink how dinosaur eggs evolved. The earliest dinosaur eggs were more like leathery turtle eggs than hard bird’s eggs. That’s the conclusion of a new study of fossilized dino embryos.
A team of palaeontologists studied embryos from two types of dinosaurs. One came from early in dinosaur history. The other lived about 150 million years later. Both sets of eggs were enclosed by soft shells. The researchers described their findings online on June 17 in Nature. It’s the first report of soft-shelled dino eggs.
“This new hypothesis provides an answer to these problems,” says Stephen Brusatte. He is a palaeontologist at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. He was not involved in the work. Until now, palaeontologists thought that all dinosaurs laid hard eggs.
Minerals such as calcite make such shells hard and help them to fossilize. But scientists couldn’t explain a lack of fossil eggs from the earliest dinosaurs. Nor did they know why tiny structures within eggshells are so different across the three main types of dinosaurs.
Further analyses of these and other dinosaur eggs suggest that hard eggshells evolved three separate times. The team thinks the long-necked sauropods, plant-eating ornithischians (Or-nuh-THISH-ee-uns) and fierce theropods each evolved their own hard shells.
Unearthing soft dino eggs
The researchers analyzed a clutch of dinosaur eggs found in Mongolia. The eggs are thought to come from Protoceratops. That was a sheep-sized ornithischian. The fossil dates to between 72 million and 84 million years ago.
The team also analyzed an egg found in Argentina. It is between 209 million and 227 million years old. Scientists believe it to be Mussaurus. It was a sauropod ancestor.
The soft eggshells weren’t easy to spot. “When they are preserved, they’d only be preserved as films,” says Mark Norell. An author of the new study works as a palaeontologist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.
When his team examined the fossilized embryos, they noticed egg-shaped halos around the skeletons. On closer look, those halos had thin brown layers. But the layers were not evenly arranged. That suggested the material was biological, not made solely of minerals. Minerals tend to create very orderly patterns.
Before a few years ago, “people thought that everything that’s soft and squishy decays away immediately post mortem,” says study author Jasmina Wiemann. She is a palaeontologist at Yale University in New Haven, Conn. But growing evidence suggests that soft biological material can fossilize. The right conditions can preserve soft tissues, she says.
The team used lasers to probe the chemical composition of the brown layers. They used a method that would not damage the fossils. This Raman spectroscopy shines laser light on a sample, then measures how the light bounces off.
The properties of the scattered light show what type of molecules are present. Wiemann has used the approach to identify pigments in dinosaur eggs.
The researchers compared the chemical fingerprints of these fossilized eggs with those of eggs from hard-shelled dinosaurs. They also compared them with eggs from present-day animals. The Protoceratops and Mussaurus eggs were most similar to modern soft-shelled eggs.
Next, the scientists combined eggshell data with what’s known about the family trees of extinct and living egg-laying animals. From that, the researchers calculated the most likely scenario for the evolution of dinosaur eggs.
Early dinosaurs laid soft-shelled eggs, they determined. Hard shells evolved in later dinos. And it happened several times — at least once in each major limb of the dino family tree.
These results suggest it may be time to rethink dinosaur parenting, says Wiemann. In the past, many ideas came from studying fossils of theropods, such as T. rex. For example, some of them sat on eggs in open nests, like modern birds. But if eggs evolved separately in different lines of dinos, parental behaviour may have, too.
“If you have a soft-shelled egg,” Norell says, “you’re burying your eggs. [There’s] not going to be a lot of parental care.” In some ways, he now suspects, dinosaurs that laid soft eggs might resemble early reptiles more than they do birds.
Now that palaeontologists know what to look for, the search is on for more soft-shelled dino eggs. Palaeontologist Gregory Erickson works at Florida State University in Tallahassee. He says, “I would not be surprised if other people come forward with other specimens.”
Six thousand-year-old tombs found in northwest Argentina
Radio Cadena Agramonte reports that 12 graves dated between 6,000 and 1,300 years ago were unearthed in northwestern Argentina by a team of researchers from the University of Buenos Aires–National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET), during investigations over the past 15 years.
According to the source, most were found fortuitously by residents of the area who, upon finding the remains, alerted the archaeological team that has been studying pre-Hispanic burial practices in northwestern Argentina for years.
The doctor in Archeology, Leticia Cortés, a specialist in burial methodologies in pre-Hispanic populations that inhabited the Valle del Cajón area, explained that when these practices are compared with current ones, they may seem strange.
“Knowing these customs, we can reconstruct the cultural practices of the past and put into perspective our own traditions, which are part of a cultural construction,” said Cortés, a researcher at the Institute of Cultures.
The search of this type began more than 15 years ago, with a research team dependent on the National Council for Scientific and Technical Research, led by María Cristina Scattolin and dedicated to excavation and analysis tasks in the town of Valle del Cajón.
This practice of burials before the arrival of the Spanish was far from what is customary today on the basis of the Judeo-Christian model.
Cortés pointed out that this type of find usually occurs after the rainy season, in summer, which is uncovered and the bones are exposed.
“There was a great variability of burial methods, in individual or collective graves, and also in the posture of the bodies.
Some are hyperflexed, like squatting, with the shoulders touching the knees, others extended and disjointed and mixed, ”explained the specialist.
Cortés pointed out that many times people lived with their dead on a daily basis, buried them in the same patio where they cooked, made pots or carved stones. It is an interesting thing to see the different conceptions that were had about life and death, he said.
According to archaeology, they continue working and have found necklaces and pendants that would be associated with the deceased, as non-transferable objects that are buried next to the body and remain there.
Villa Epecuen: The Town That Was Submerged For 25 Years
The landscape has the permanent look of winter. Leafless trees jag skywards while shimmering white dust covers the ground. The streets are deserted; the only sound is the breeze. Welcome to Epecuen, Argentina’s ghost town, with a population of just one.
Located 340 miles south-west of Buenos Aires, Epecuen was once a booming tourist destination on the shores of a salt lake famed for its healing properties. Then one-day disaster struck. On 10 November 1985, after a period of heavy rain, the banks of the lake burst. The town, stretching back for more than 100 blocks, was submerged in water 10 meters deep.
Over the past few years, the waters have receded and the town has re-emerged. Left behind is a crystalline residue that from a distance looks like snow, as well as hundreds of dead trees and a derelict resort.
When the flood hit, residents were forced to pack their bags and leave. No one dared to return, except for 83-year-old Pablo Novak, who now has the dubious title of being contemporary Epecuen’s only resident. Today he’s out for a jaunt on his rusting bicycle with his two dogs in tow.
“I got used to life on my own,” he says. “I decided to stay because I spent my youth here, I went to school here and also started a family here. So it seemed quite normal.”
The flood reduced Epecuen to rubble. No house was left untouched. Façades have disintegrated; walls have crumbled; pavements have sunk. Wooden staircases are exposed – in one spot are the rusting remains of a 1930s Chevrolet that an owner failed to salvage.
The salt has preserved tiny details, freezing the resort in time and allowing a voyeuristic glimpse into the past. Near the main street are the remains of a pizzeria. The sculptures that the owner bought to decorate his business are still intact, including a stone crescent moon sitting outside as though it were still 1985. In the rubble, a wood-fired pizza oven is clearly visible.
Walking among the crystalline ruins, the tracks left by a tractor that tried to salvage valuables from the long-gone Santa Teresista Church are still there. Dotted around the site, too, are green wine bottles half-buried in the sand. Further away from the main drag is what used to function as the municipal camping area. The eerie site has an abandoned playground: the frame of a set of swings still stands, as does a rusting seesaw, every inch reminiscent of Chernobyl.
Javier Andres, head of tourism for the normally sleepy agricultural region of Adolfo Alsina, has been swamped with interest in the last few weeks due to a concerted effort to promote the ruins. Epecuen has been compared to Pompeii, he says, but there is one major difference.
“We don’t think there’s anywhere in the world quite like it,” he explains. “Although it’s been called the Argentinian Pompeii, there you’re not able to walk around with a former resident explaining everything to you. Here you can do that.”
The waters began their retreat in 2009 but the tourist board delayed launching a campaign until now, respectful of the reactions the floods continue to provoke among the hundreds who lost their livelihoods.
“When you visit Epecuen, the sensation is hard to explain,” Mr. Andres says. “There’s a sense of wonder at this place that is completely in ruins, an apocalyptic vision. But then you can’t help thinking about the people that lost everything here, years of effort and hard work that disappeared overnight. So there’s a lot of sadness at the same time.”
The devastated landscape has attracted the attention of several movie crews and Roland Joffé’s Spanish Civil War drama, There Be Dragons, was partly filmed here. Yet the demise of Epecuen remains painful for former residents. The health resort was one of the most frequented in Argentina, growing in popularity from the 1920s and attracting European as well as local tourists at a time before the wide availability of alternative treatments.
The water – 10 times saltier than the sea – drew many of Buenos Aires’s Jewish community, nostalgic for the Dead Sea. The town’s population of just over 1,000 would swell fivefold during the high season.
“There are some things you can repair, such as the economic damage,” says Carlos Ruben Besagonill, 49, who used to run a hotel in Epecuen. “But you can’t replace the experiences, the affection, the moments you passed there.”
Mr. Besagonill says that it’s taken him more than 20 years to re-establish the business he had in Epecuen in nearby Carhue, now the region’s main tourist town. He was forced to leave behind everything in 1985, recently married and with a one-year-old daughter in his arms. “I used to dream every night that Epecuen reappeared,” he says. “I’d dream that I told my family: ‘Look we can go back and paint the hotel,’ because I really thought it was possible.”
Mr Besagonill is pleased that the ruins may soon be a major tourist attraction once more. For him, it should serve as a warning about “what not to do with nature”. He says that the province may be to blame for poor water management, but that the town should never have been built so close to the shores of a lake that was liable to overflow.
Back on the main street, the ghosts of Epecuen continue to swirl around the crumbling concrete as Mr. Novak recalls the ice-cream parlour he used to pass, the bar he’d visit for a beer, and the clubs where he’d dance until the early hours.
Mr. Novak says that his children don’t like coming back – unlike his 21 grandchildren who love hearing his yarns and devour his photos of the old days – and every year they try to convince him to move away. But while he remains independent, he argues, he’s going nowhere.
Although Mr. Andres rejects the idea that somebody may be prepared to stump up the “six-figure sum” needed to rebuild Epecuen, Mr. Novak remains dogged in his hope that the town will one day recapture its glorious past. “I always thought it would revive, that’s the thing I find most difficult,” he says wistfully. “I keep on hoping it will happen. But sadly no one seems to want to do anything.”
Argentinian farmer Discovered a prehistoric giant Armadillo shell
The resting place of ancient armadillos that roamed the earth some 20,000 years ago has been discovered in Argentina. A farmer stumbled upon the graveyard containing fossilized shells of four massive Glyptodonts, with the largest being the size of a Volkswagen Beetle.
The remains were discovered in a dried-out riverbed near the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires – at first, only two were spotted, but two more were found while paleontologists excavated the site.
Researchers believe the group consists of two adults and two young animals, but further testing will determine the cause of death, sex, and weight of the remains.
Juan de Dios Sota made the discovery while taking his cows out to graze near a river, Metro reported. He noticed two strange formations in a dried-out river bed and after taking a closer look, he knew he had stumbled upon something amazing and notified officials.
Pablo Messineo, one of the archaeologists at the scene, said: ‘We went there expecting to find two glyptodonts when the excavation started and then two more were found!’
‘It is the first time there have been four animals like this on the same site.’
‘Most of them were facing the same direction as they were walking towards something.’
Glyptodonts are the early ancestors of our modern armadillos that lived mostly across North and South America during the Pleistocene epoch. The creatures were encased from head to tail in thick, protective armour resembling in shape the shell of a turtle but composed of bony plates much like the covering of an armadillo.
The body shell alone was as long as 5 feet and as thick as two inches. It used its tail as a weapon – like a club – as the tip had a bony knob at the end that was sometimes spiked.
The group discovered in Argentina are believed to be two adults and two young animals, but experts are set to conduct further testing to determine the age, sex, and cause of death for each of the fossilized Glyptodonts.
A separate fossilized shell was discovered in 2015 by another farmer in Argentina. After popping out for some fresh air, farmer Jose Antonio Nievas stumbled across what experts said are the remains of a prehistoric giant. The 3 feet long shell discovered on a riverbank near a local farm may be from a glyptodont – a prehistoric kind of giant armadillo.
While there is a chance the shell is a hoax because it hasn’t been studied directly by experts, Adrian Lister of the Natural History Museum, London, told MailOnline: ‘I think it is quite likely this is genuine.’
‘The shell looks like a genuine glyptodont shell, and the hole is ‘wear and tear’, not where the head or tail went,’ he explained.
At first, Mr. Nievas thought the black scaly shell was a dinosaur egg when he saw it in the mud, his wife Reina Coronel said. But a paleontologist who studied the pictures later said it belonged to an ancient ancestor of the armadillo.
Alejandro Kramarz of the Bernadino Rivadavia Natural Sciences Museum exclaimed: ‘There is no doubt that it looks like a glyptodont.’
Nievas told television channel Todo Noticias he found the shell partly covered in mud and started to dig around it. Various experts who saw television pictures of the object also said it is likely to be a glyptodont shell.
Professor Lister explained it’s common to find fossils buried in the bank of streams and rivers because flowing water gradually erodes the bank to expose ancient shells and bones.
‘The finder would first have spotted a small area of the shell exposed in the stream bank and then by digging, exposed the whole thing,’ he said.
‘This scenario is supported by the green staining on the shell, just in the area where it might first have been exposed to the stream, even with a kind of ‘tide mark’ on it.
‘It would be an ingenious hoaxer who would construct such a thing.’
Rancher finds the strange rock on his farm, it was not what he had in mind at all
A rancher came across an old bone sticking out of his desert property near La Flecha in the Patagonia region of Argentina four years ago. With the recent news of exciting dinosaur finds in that country in mind, he scratched around some more. Then he went to a local museum to ask paleontologists to come to look for more fossils.
Many important dinosaur discoveries are made by non-experts in just this casual way. The rancher’s find soon led to the exposure of skeletal remains of six of the biggest titanosaurs. These herbivores lived about 100 million years ago, in the Late Cretaceous Period, on all continents, including Antarctica. They seemed especially plentiful in southern lands.
Now, the most imposing one of these dinosaurs from the far south of South America, assembled from 84 fossil pieces excavated from the rancher’s land, is the newest eyeful of ancient life on display at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan. The hulking skeleton cast made its debut as a permanent attraction. Museum officials and scientists called it a must-see addition to the ranks of such popular icons as the institution’s great blue whale and the fierce Tyrannosaurus rex.
“There’s nothing like finding a great new fossil, especially such a huge one,” said Michael J. Novacek, the museum’s senior vice president, provost of science and a curator of paleontology.
The new research is expected to yield insights into the physiology of dinosaurs and how they were able to grow and function as such large creatures.
“Paleontology has become less geological and more biological in the last 20 years or so,” said Mark A. Norell, chairman of the paleontology division at the museum and a leading dinosaur researcher. He cited the field’s new “geochemical tools” for determining diet, growth patterns, and locomotion. “All of us are simply biologists who work on fossils,” he added.
The exhibit is not only a centerpiece for the museum’s fossil collections but also the start of a wide range of dinosaur programs for the year, including symposiums and another exhibition, “Dinosaurs Among Us,”
The Patagonian skeleton was not an easy fit in its New York home. At 122 feet in length, it was a bit too long for the gallery. Part of its 39-foot-long neck extends through an opening in a wall toward the elevator banks as if to welcome visitors to the fossil floors.
This titanosaur was a young adult, gender undetermined. Its appetite for all kinds of vegetation must have been prodigious. Based on bone sizes, researchers estimated that this individual weighed 70 tons — as much as 10 African elephants, the heaviest land animals today. Think of its possible heft if it were fully grown. Think of it satisfying its huge appetite by stretching its long neck to graze far and wide. With only a few shifts in position, it might have mowed the equivalent of all the grass in Yankee Stadium in a morning.
Weight was also a factor in preparing the skeleton cast for display, a task undertaken by Research Casting International in Canada. The actual mineralized fossils were too heavy to mount. Instead, all “bones” are made from lightweight fiberglass based on digital copies of the original fossils.
Much of the grueling excavation leading to the discovery was done by teams led by José Luis Carballido and Diego Pol, paleontologists at Paleontological Museum Egidio Feruglio in Argentina. They began excavating for months at a time after the rancher’s visit. Sometimes it took a week of digging to isolate a single femur or a forelimb. Thighs and upper arms are critical to judging the size and weight of a dinosaur.
Dr. Pol said the excavations revealed that at least six of these giant individuals, all young adults, had died at the site of what had been a flood plain near a river. Their deaths had happened at three distinct times, anywhere from a few years to centuries apart. Like many herding animals, they may have become isolated from the group and died of stress and hunger near their watering hole.
“That’s when we realized this was a once-in-a-lifetime discovery,” Dr. Pol said. Dinosaurs are the big game to fossil hunters, and these were some of the biggest plant-eating dinosaurs ever found.
The size and distinctive shape of an eight-foot femur of one specimen astonished scientists. This appeared to be a previously unknown titanosaur species, yet unnamed. Dr. Pol said a report that is being prepared may soon propose a formal species name.
In a bravura moment, Dr. Pol had his picture taken stretched out on the ground beside the femur, about the size of a living room couch. The photograph caught the attention of paleontologists at the natural history museum in New York, where Dr. Pol had done his Ph.D. research. “Maybe we can get that thing,” one said. “That would look great for a renovated dinosaur gallery,” another said.
Early last year, Dr. Novacek signed the deal with the Argentine museum to build the full-size skeleton cast for permanent display in New York. On a visit a few days before the titanosaur’s unveiling, workers were applying finishing touches as Dr. Norell paused at the entrance, under the watchful eye and toothy jaw of the star attraction.
“I guarantee you are going to remember this first impression,” Dr. Norell said. “Seeing something like this, you don’t quite have anything to compare its size and aspect with.”
He was right. The dinosaur was inexpressibly strange and big. Once again, we are reminded of what we know: Dinosaurs mostly were big, an engaging mystery and a challenge. The titanosaur’s arrival at the museum may inspire a new understanding of these incredible creatures. It is exciting enough to walk a corridor to the fossil galleries in anticipation of meeting it and spending some time with old friends of fond memory.
Dr. Novacek is not bothered by some skepticism that the specimens are from the biggest dinosaur discovered so far and that these may soon be eclipsed in size by new excavations.
“Every time we find the biggest dinosaur,” he said, “we soon find a bigger one in the next dig.”
Ecuador has found the fossils of a previously unknown titanosaurus. The medium to small-sized dinosaur lived 85 million years ago, during the Upper Cretaceous period.
The remains have been found in the province of Loja at the southern end of the country. It is the first time in the history of dinosaur fossils and the northernmost example of its sauropod subfamily to date have been found.
The fossils of the titanosaur, called Yamanasaurus lojaensis, are the first of their kind and were discovered by a farmer in rocks of the Río Playas Formation in the Yamana parish. According to a report in El Universo , the fossils were passed along until they eventually became state property.
In August 2018, Argentinian paleontologist Sebastián Apesteguía of the University Maimónides was called in by professors John Soto, José Tamay, and Galo Guamán at the Technical University of Loja (UTPL) to give a conference and provide an expert’s opinion on the fossils.
Apesteguía told El Universo that he was asked to verify if the fossils came from a dinosaur and if he could tell the professors anything about the long -extinct creature . He could and did.
“It was a shock” Apesteguía said “the material they showed me was incredible because it is clearly the last two sacral vertebrae of a titanosaur.
Later my colleague Pablo Gallina and I were able to find out exactly what kind of titanosaur, but at that moment there was no doubt in my mind that it was a medium to small sized dinosaur.”
A paper on the discovery in Cretaceous Research states that altogether the Yamanasaurus lojaensis fossils include “a partial sacrum, a partial mid-caudal vertebra, and several associated limb bones” and the “Morphology, size, and age suggest that Yamanasaurus is closely related to Neuquensaurus, being the northernmost known by far.”
Technical processes were then carried out in Loja and analyses of the results in Buenos Aires . When the vertebrae were examined, the experts were able to make a particularly useful find – not the presence of chambers, which are more commonly found in a saltasaurus titanosaur (a titanosaurid sauropod dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous period with fossils found in Argentina), but a texture that was more sponge like.
This means that the animal was more similar to a Neuquensaurus australis (a genus of saltasaurid sauropod dinosaur that is from the same period but has left fossils in both Argentina and Uruguay).
And with this information in hand, Apesteguía told El Universo that the image of what the dinosaur looked like became clear:
“The comparison of the vertebrae, especially the caudal [tail] vertebrae of the Neuquensaurus, to the Patagonian saltasaurus, they have exactly the same form and size.
That means the animal is identical to Neuquensaurus, including the internal structure of the bones. So, it wasn’t necessary to invent much.
It’s pretty much placing the parts we have of the Yamanasaurus on the skeleton of a Neuquensaurus. It’s really rather simple. They are practically identical.”
The researchers believe that the titanosaur was an herbivore that likely ate from smaller trees. But what does Apesteguía mean when he says that Yamanasaurus lojaensis is a medium to smaller-sized dinosaur? In this case, it refers to a creature that measured approximated six meters (19.69 ft.) long, was robust, and had a protective shell, according to El Comercio .
Its skin was also probably covered with tiny bones to provide further protection from predators. The reconstruction of Ecuador’s first known dinosaur was created by Argentinian paleoartist Jorge González.
Apart from being Ecuador’s first known example of dinosaur fossils, the significance of this discovery has a wider reach. Apesteguía told El Universo that the find provides another detail on the knowledge of dinosaurs that lived in the region, “It’s the first in Ecuador and scientifically it’s the most northern, most boreal, example of a saltasaur that we have found.
Until now, the most northern was in the north of Argentina. But suddenly there’s a jump and we find the same type of animal from the same time period in Ecuador.”
Experts are aware that the lucky discovery of the titanosaur fossils may mean there are more to find in the area, so they’re already planning for a search, according to El Universo.
But there are very real concerns that if the proper authorities don’t act quickly they may lose out to others finding fossils and selling them on the black market before the experts even start their search.