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Gigantic meat-eating dinosaur discovered

At a news conference today in the western Patagonian city where the news species was found, paleontologists will unveil what may be one of the largest carnivorous dinosaurs known. The new species, Mapusaurus roseae, is named and identified in Geodiversitas by Professor Rodolfo Coria of the Museo Carmen Funes in Plaza Huincul, Argentina and Dr. Philip Currie of the University of Alberta, Canada.

"Over the last decade, people have become increasingly aware of a group of gigantic meat-eating dinosaurs called carcharodontosaurids," explains Currie. "These animals include Giganotosaurus, which was larger than the largest known specimen of Tyrannosaurus rex. After four years of working in a dinosaur quarry in Argentina, we discovered that we had a new species of carcharodontosaurid that we called Mapusaurus roseae."

Hundreds of Mapusaurus bones were found in sandstone 100 million years old. The remains include what may be one of the biggest meat-eating dinosaurs known, slightly larger than its older cousin, Giganotosaurus. The discovery, made 15 miles south of the city of Plaza Huincul in 1995, took five years of excavation under the direction of Coria and Currie who removed 100 tons of sandstone from a desert hilltop.

For a century giant meat-eating dinosaurs such as Tyrannosaurus rex were assumed to be solitary animals. Family groupings of large meat-eating dinosaurs have only recently been identified, and could provide paleontologists with information on its behaviour, the probable ways that it ate, and what can be learned about changes during growth.

"The presence of so many animals in one quarry suggests that they were living together in a pack at the time leading up to their catastrophic death," comments Currie. "Similar sites found recently in Alberta, Mongolia and the United States suggests that this kind of social behavior may have been relatively common in Late Cretaceous (65 to 90 million years ago) times."

Currie spec
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Contact: Phoebe Dey
phoebe.dey@ualberta.ca
780-492-0437
University of Alberta
17-Apr-2006


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