Artist's impression of the new dinosaur species based on the description given by paleontologists. Credit: Reuters / National Museum of National History

Scientists Discover New Gigantic Dinosaur Species in Atacama Desert

The newly found dinosaur is part of a group of species known as Titanosaurs but it differs from any other similar species.

A team of paleontologists described the fossil remains of a new previously unknown dinosaur species that lived about 66 million years ago in the dry Chilean Atacama Desert.


New dinosaur discovered in the driest place on Earth

The new dinosaur is a species of the titanosaurs group. These creatures lived millions of years ago in the territory of the modern Atacama Desert, which is considered the most barren place on Earth.

However, in the distant past, this region probably had a tropical climate and was a humid and blooming land. After all, scientists discovered the remains of a dinosaur that was herbivorous. Scientists have named the new species Arackar licanantay.

Interestingly, the fossils were found back in the 1990s about 60 km south of the city of Copiapo by a group of geologists. However, only now have scientists identified and described this creature.

Over the past two decades, paleontologists have carried out several studies on the remains before they began excavating them partially. They were surprised to see that this is one of the most complete fossils discovered in the region.

According to the authors of the work, this new dinosaur lived in the Cretaceous period, about 66-80 million years ago. This find is extremely significant due to the fact that titanosaur species have rarely been found in this region and never before in Chile.

The new titanosaur species reportedly had a small head, but its neck and tail were long. He differed from his relatives in an unusually flat back. The researchers also write that Arackar licanantay was smaller than other titanosaurs.

The new dinosaur species also differ in the shape of its legs. Most titanosaur species have an open angle at their legs. Arackar licanantay, in turn, does not appear to have this angle. Scientists will now explore the reasons behind this unusual physical feature.

Recent paleontological discoveries

The recent months have been productive and paleontologists have revealed several stunning discoveries. I have selected three of the most recent finds that I believe make the most significant impact on the history of our planet.

• Paleontologists discovered the first reliable fossilized footprint of a young stegosaur that lived in the Early Cretaceous in China. The fossil record has preserved not only the fossilized remains of species that lived thousands and millions of years ago, but also evidence of their vital activity. These include, for example, tooth marks, petrified excrement, and burrows.

Hind paw print of a young stegosaurus from Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Credit: Lida Xing et al. / Palaios, 2021
The new hind paw print of a young stegosaurus from Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Credit: Lida Xing et al. / Palaios, 2021

• Paleontologists also discovered a new dinosaur that is the oldest owner of the opposed thumb in history. It turned out to be a small pterosaur Kunpengopterus antipollicatus from the Late Jurassic of China. The first toe on the wing of this species was opposed to the rest and probably helped to grip the branches tightly. This anatomical feature is indicative of an arboreal lifestyle and climbing ability.

Two individuals of Kunpengopterus antipollicatus as seen by the artist. Credit: Xuanyu Zhou et al. / Current Biology, 2021
Two individuals of Kunpengopterus antipollicatus as seen by the artist. Credit: Xuanyu Zhou et al. / Current Biology, 2021

• Last but not least, paleontologists estimated the number of all tyrannosaurs that have ever lived. Having calculated the approximate population density of this species and multiplying it by the area of ​​its range, scientists came to the conclusion that about twenty thousand adult tyrannosaurs could simultaneously live on the planet in the Late Cretaceous.

Considering that these reptiles have existed on the planet for about 2.4 million years, the total number of representatives of the species that ever lived is 2.5 billion adults. Unfortunately. the remains of only a few of them have survived to this day.


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Sources:

Cambero, F. (2021, April 19). Scientists in Chile discover remains Of PLANT-EATING Dinosaur AMID World´s DRIEST DESERT.
Phys.org. (2021, April 21). New giant dinosaur species discovered in Chile.
Valencia, C. F. (n.d.). Arackar licanantay: Chile presenta una nueva especie de dinosaurio.

Written by Vladislav Tchakarov

Hello, my name is Vladislav and I am glad to have you here on Curiosmos. My experience as a freelance writer began in 2018 but I have been part of the Curiosmos family since mid-2020. As a history student, I have a strong passion for history and science, and the opportunity to research and write in this field on a daily basis is a dream come true.

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