Researchers present the most complete predator dinosaur discovered in Brazil

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Ricky Joseph

Researchers from UFSM and USP present the most complete predator dinosaur discovered in Brazil.

Dinosaurs dominated the Earth during most of the Mesozoic Era (between approximately 250 and 65 million years ago). Among the countless species of dinosaurs that lived during that time, much attention is given to the large predators, such as the North American Tyrannosaurus rex As is the case of the tyrannosaurus, the best known predatory dinosaurs are found in rocks of the Jurassic or Cretaceous Period (between 201 and 65 million years ago). In the first period of the Mesozoic Era, the Triassic, the carnivorous dinosaurs are already rare, a time when they were smaller and little known. In a new study published by researchers from UFSM and the University of SãoPaulo (USP), a new species of predatory dinosaur from the Triassic (approximately 230 million years old) has been named, the Gnathovorax cabreirai .

The fossil was discovered in 2014 in the municipality of São João do Polêsine. This dinosaur is among the oldest in the world and was up to 3 meters long. Despite being smaller than the Jurassic or Cretaceous predators, this dinosaur was one of the largest carnivores in its environment and certainly the largest Brazilian dinosaur of its time. Other dinosaurs that lived withhe, like Buriolestes schultzi they measured about 1.5 metres long.

The block of rock with the fossil was discovered in 2014 in São João do Polêsine by paleontologist Sérgio Furtado Cabreira. Photo: Rodrigo Temp Müller

The fossil skeleton, which is very well preserved and quite complete, reveals pointed and serrated teeth, as well as long claws on the fingers of the hands, which helped capture prey. Moreover, the excellent degree of preservation allowed researchers, with the use of modern computerized tomography techniques, to reconstruct part of the brain morphology of theAnatomical details of the brain revealed features that are common in predatory reptiles, such as well-developed regions related to balance and vision. The combination of these features indicates that this animal was an active predator in its environment. In fact, the name Gnathovorax means "voracious jaws," whereas cabreirai makes reference to the paleontologist Sérgio Furtado Cabreira, responsible for the discovery of the skeleton.

The kinship analysis performed in the study indicated that the new dinosaur was a member of a group called Herrerasauridae, being related to some nearby dinosaurs discovered in Brazil and Argentina. However, the skeleton of the Gnathovorax cabreirai is the best-preserved ever discovered for dinosaurs of this group. This is an interesting fact, because the last herrerasaurid (the Staurikosaurus pricei ) was discovered in Brazil in 1936 and its skeleton is now at Harvard in the U.S. The new discovery, however, will be deposited in Brazilian soil. This will allow those interested in knowing the fossil of a herrerasaurid dinosaur to visit it in Brazil, at the Center of Support for Paleontological Research of the Fourth Colony (Cappa) of UFSM, in São João do Polêsine.

The study was published in the scientific journal PeerJ and was conducted by Cristian Pereira Pacheco, an alumnus of the Graduate Program in Animal Biodiversity at UFSM, the paleontologists from UFSM Rodrigo Temp Müller, Leonardo Kerber, Flávio Pretto and Sérgio Dias da Silva, and the paleontologist from USP Max Cardoso Langer. The illustrator responsible for performing the graphic reconstruction of the Gnathovorax cabreirai in life was the paleoartist Márcio Castro.

Ricky Joseph is a seeker of knowledge. He firmly believes that through understanding the world around us, we can work to better ourselves and our society as a whole. As such, he has made it his life's mission to learn as much as he can about the world and its inhabitants. Joseph has worked in many different fields, all with the aim of furthering his knowledge. He has been a teacher, a soldier, and a businessman - but his true passion lies in research. He currently works as a research scientist for a major pharmaceutical company, where he is dedicated to finding new treatments for diseases that have long been considered incurable. Through diligence and hard work, Ricky Joseph has become one of the foremost experts on pharmacology and medicinal chemistry in the world. His name is known by scientists everywhere, and his work continues to improve the lives of millions.