Huge dinosaur may have hunted in “packs”
and World Science staff
A newly described meat-eating dinosaur, roughly similar in size to Tyrannosaurus rex, may have hunted in packs, researchers say.
“Over the last decade, people have become increasingly aware of a group of gigantic meat-eating dinosaurs called carcharodontosaurids,” said Philip Currie of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, in a statement from his university this week.
“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.”
Currie and colleagues describe the species in the current issue of the research journal Geodiversitas. Hundreds of Mapusaurus bones were found in 100-million-year-old sandstone near Plaza Huincul, Argentina in 1995, he said. Unearthing them took five years of excavation.
For a century, giant meat-eating dinosaurs such as T. rex were assumed to be solitary animals. Family groupings of large meat-eating dinosaurs have only recently been identified, Currie said.
“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,” he added. “Similar sites found recently in Alberta, Mongolia and the United States suggest that this kind of social behaviour may have been relatively common in late Cretaceous times,” 65 million to 90 million years ago.
Currie speculated that by co-ordinating movements, the Mapusaurus pack or family might have been able to hunt the largest dinosaur of all time: Argentinosaurus, a 40-metre (44-yard) plant-eater that shared its central South American habitat. The largest Mapusaurus specimen found was slightly longer than 12.5 metres (41 feet), he added.
* * *
Send us a comment
on this story, or send
it to a friend