New Dinosaur joins Famous Family New Dinosaur Joins Famous and Enigmatic Family

 New Dinosaur Joins Famous and Enigmatic Family

A new carnivore-like dinosaur discovered in Spain helps tell the story of a little-understood, semi-aquatic family of carnivores that probably originated in Europe, the researchers concluded.

Spinosaurids are a family of long, short dinosaurs that branched into many different species, including the new ones Protathlitis cinctorrensis, which was believed to be 10 to 11 meters long and possessed long conical teeth. Previous studies have concluded that the family most likely ate fish – wading through the water like a heron – while catching occasional pterosaurs, a group of flying dinosaurs.

A newspaper said of the Spinosaurids: “They are not as well known as other theropod groups due to a combination of the fragmentary nature of their fossils, mainly based on isolated elements such as teeth,” as well as their unusual skeletal structure.

How a new species of dinosaur fits in

The latest discovery focuses on a right jaw, tooth and five vertebrae from the Arcillas de Morella Formation in Spain, which dates to the Early Cretaceous period (145 million years ago). The area has also yielded other dinosaur fossils. The new spinosaurid bones date back to between 126 and 127 million years ago and have helped clarify the spinosaurid family tree, along with better-known species such as the titanic Spinosaurus and the smaller Baryonyx.

Read more: The End of the Dinosaurs: The End-Cretaceous Mass Extinction

The new species also marks the identification of a new genus, Protathlitis, which means “champion” in Greek, after European football team Villarreal, which won the 2021 UEFA Europa League title, according to ABC News.

Cinctorrensis honors the town, Cinctorres, located near the excavation site.

Roads from Europe to the world

Tracking the distribution of Spinosaurid dinosaurs around the world has proven complicated thanks to how continental drift has changed the face of the Earth over the past 150 million years. The new study suggests that Spinosaurids originated in present-day Europe and diversified there into two subfamilies, the Spinosaurines and the Baryonychines.

At the time, Europe belonged to the larger northern continent of Laurasia, and the spinosaurids somehow migrated from there to present-day Africa, part of the Gondwana continent. Over time, spinosaurines took over Africa, while baryonychins became more common in Europe.

Spinosaurids also spread into what became South America, South Asia and the United Kingdom, where they left behind the teeth that are now most commonly used to identify them.

An aquatic predator?

Paleontologists debate exactly how aquatic the largest spinosaur, Spinosaurus, was, and whether it waited for prey underwater or simply stepped in to grab a fish like a crocodile. Recent research has adopted the latter argument:

“It’s just not an animal that in your wildest dreams would be as dynamic above water as a swimmer, much less underwater,” said Paul Sereno, a professor of organismal biology and anatomy at the University of Chicago, in press release.

Read more about New Dinosaur Famous Family

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