Carnegie Museum Paleontologist Helps Discover New Meat-Eating Dinosaur

Mar 29, 2018

The bones of a new species of meat-eating dinosaur have been discovered in the Patagonia region of Argentina, with the help of a local paleontologist.

Scientists believe the carnivorous Tratayenia rosalesi was about 30 feet long, with serrated teeth like a steak knife and hollow bones. It lived about 85 million years ago, during the Cretaceous period -- the last segment of the age of dinosaurs.

"And I think the most striking thing about this animal, if you could see it in the flesh, would be that it would have gigantic arms for a predatory dinosaur," Paleontologist Matt Lamanna with the Carnegie Museum of Natural History said. Lamanna was part of the excavation crew that discovered the specimen.

This is a big departure from other meat eaters, like Tyrannosaurus rex, who had proportionately very small arms. Lamanna said the discovery of Tratayenia is a tantalizing find.

"This animal, Tratayenia, is based on beautifully preserved bones," Lamanna said. "It looks like a work of art, like something you'd see in a sculpture gallery."

The specimen found had a full set of hip vertebrae, about half of its back, some ribs and a lot of the pelvis -- and Lamanna said this is enough to know it's a new species.

The discovery gives some insight into the hip structure of Tratayenia's family group, the megaraptoridae. The Argentine specimen might also be the youngest megaraptoridae yet discovered, meaning it outlived its cousins in the dinosaur timeline.

There's still a lot to learn about Tratayenia and the megaraptoridae family, such as their biological connection to other Southern Hemisphere carnivores, but Lamanna said he's hopeful more discoveries will be made to close these knowledge gaps in the future.