In 1998 scientists unveiled a terrifying new species of dinosaur believed to be far deadlier than anything the world had ever seen before. They named it Megaraptor namunhuaiquii, the ‘great plunderer with the lance like foot’. At the time it was believed that the Megaraptor was a gigantic version of the Velociraptors seen in Jurassic Park – measuring a monstrous seven metres in length and standing over ten feet tall. This new beast, equipped with sickle foot claws over 12 inches long, believed to have been used to disembowl very large prey items, was truly the stuff of nightmares.
Later research revealed, however, that the Megaraptor was not actually a mega raptor after all. Subsequent studies indicated that the creature was most likely a more generic looking theropod dinosaur (the family which includes all of the meat eaters), with the impressive ‘foot claw’ more likely to have been placed on the hand. Indeed, until quite recently most scientists believed that Megaraptor‘s true place in the theropod family tree was among the allosaurs, with some speculating that it might have been a tyrannosaur or even a spinosaur.
It would appear that a recent discovery has perhaps solved the Megaraptor mystery. A new scientific paper has detailed what is believed to be the partial remains of a juvenile Megaraptor. While the full paper is not available for free in the public domain (it costs $37.95 to purchase it – science aint cheap you know!), the abstract which has been published publicly states that the skull which was unearthed in north-western Patagonia, Argentina bears striking resemblances to the skulls of certain tyrannosauroids, particularly in relation to the well recognised D shaped cross section and the placement of the teeth.
Palaeontologist Dr Thomas R. Holtz, a self-confessed ‘Tyrannocentric’, posted an image on his Twitter feed comparing the new juvenile Megaraptor skull (A) with that of the small Chinese tyrannosauroid dinosaur called Dilong paradoxus (B), highlighting the striking similarity between the two creatures:
Juvenile Megaraptor compared to Dilong pic.twitter.com/XfcTKx6ojW
— Thomas R. Holtz, Jr. (@TomHoltzPaleo) June 21, 2014
[Cover Image: Wikipedia]