Meat-eating dino that had teeth like “steak knives” identified

December 13th, 2007 - 4:28 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Dec 13 (ANI): Fossil experts have identified a new species of meat-eating dinosaur, which is larger than Tyrannosaurus Rex, from the remains found in North Africa.

The study, led by Steve Brusatte, a student at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, stated that the formerly unknown dinosaur, named as Carcharodontosaurus iguidensis, grew up to 45 feet long and used huge steak knife teeth for slashing through prey.

“It was just a completely ferocious animal. The teeth of this guy were enormous. They were the size of bananas, but they were very thin teeth,” National Geographic quoted Brusatte, as saying.

The dinosaur’s skull was about 5.5 feet long and was relatively lightweight given the animal’s size.

Brusatte’s study is based on 95-million-year-old skull, jaw, and neck fossils, which were found in 1997 in Niger.

The remains were unearthed during an expedition led by study co-author Paul Sereno, a National Geographic Society Explorer-in-Residence and a palaeontologist at the University of Chicago.

When the discovery was made, Sereno’s team had identified the fossils as belonging to the genus Carcharodontosaurus.

“There are five or six key differences in the skull, the snout, and the bones that surround the brain,” Sereno said.

Brusatte said that the finding suggests that C. iguidensis relied on speed and used its teeth like hatchets to strike at the neck or flanks of its prey.

On the other hand, the researcher noted that T. rex had a much stronger skull and teeth adapted not just to taking down prey but actually crunching through bone.

According to Brusatte, the new dinosaur is one of “the largest carnivores we know of that lived on land.”

The study suggests that the newly described species is evidence for rapid evolution after shallow prehistoric seas inundated North Africa, separating Carcharodontosaurus populations in what is now Morocco and Niger.

Brusatte said that the mid-Cretaceous period when these dinosaurs lived was marked by some of the warmest temperatures and highest sea levels in Earth’s history.

“It looks like we’re seeing evolution in action,” Brusatte said.

“We see it not only in Carcharodontosaurus but with other dinosaurs from Morocco and Niger from the same time period, he added.

The find could help researchers understand how the massive Carcharodontosaurus was able to share its watery territory with a variety of other huge, two-legged carnivores.

The study is published in Journal of Vertebrate Palaeontology. (ANI)

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