Scientists from the Patagonia region of Chile have found the southernmost dinosaur fossils recorded outside of Antarctica. Fossils include remains of megaraptors that would have controlled the region’s food chain before their mass extinction.
Megaraptors were carnivorous or meat-eating dinosaurs that lived in parts of South America during the Cretaceous Period around 70 million years ago. The fossils have been found in sizes up to 10 meters long, the Journal of South American Earth Sciences said.
Marcelo Leppe is director of the Chilean Antarctic Institute (INACH). “We were missing a piece,” he said. Reuters. “We knew where there were big mammalsthere would also be large carnivores, but we hadn’t found them yet.”
The remains were found in the far south of Chile, the Rio de las Chinas Valley, in the Magallanes Basin, between 2016 and 2020. Scientists also found unusual remains of unenlagia, a velociraptor-like dinosaur which was probably covered in feathers.
The fossils, said Jared Amudeo, a researcher at the University of Chile, had certain qualities not present in similar remains found in Argentina or Brazil.
“It could be a new specieswhich is very likely, or belong to another family of dinosaurs that are closely related,” he said. He added that more evidence was needed.
The studies also provide more information about the conditions of the meteorite impact on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. This meteorite may have led to the extinction of the dinosaurs around 65 million years ago.
Leppe pointed to a sharp drop in temperatures over present-day Patagonia and waves of intense cold that could last up to several thousand years. The climate, however, was very hot for much of the Cretaceous period.
“This world was already in crisis before (the meteorite) and this is evident in the rocks of the Rio de las Chinas valley,” he said.
I am Dan Novak.
Dan Novak adapted this story for VOA Learning English based on Reuters reporting.
words in this story
extinction — nm the state or situation that occurs when something has completely died out
mammal — nm a type of animal that gives milk to its young and usually has hair or fur covering most of its skin
species — nm a group of animals or plants that are similar and can produce young animals or plants