Scientists have discovered another remnant of an early common ancestor of the alligator and crocodile. These types of discoveries are not uncommon; almost every month so far this year, researchers are finding new species of dinosaurs or at least new fossils that spur them on to keep looking for the species they belong to.
2021 saw quite a few new dino discoveries, and only halfway through 2022, this year seems to be taking researchers by storm on the discovery frontier. I don’t know whether that’s because more people are moving into this profession or whether it’s the updated technology and equipment that makes discoveries more frequent.
Either way, as an enthusiast who loves learning about these new discoveries, it’s most certainly something I’ll be sure to look into. But, without further ado, let’s dive into what new species of dinosaurs the paleontologists have been keeping themselves busy with so far.
Thanatotheristes Degrootorum and Ulughbegsaurus Uzbekistanensis – January 2022
The finding of two enormous dinosaur species explains the disappearance of apex predators in Asia and North America. Just before dinosaurs became extinct at the end of the Cretaceous era, the Tyrannosaurus Rex was the fiercest predator in North America. We now know that the main predator in both the Jurassic era and the Cretaceous era was often a carnivorous dinosaur.
Tyrannosaurs, Ppinosaurs, and Carcharodontosaurs were among the predators that walked using two legs and possessed formidable jaws that were lined with very sharp teeth. The Tyrannosaurus rex was the movie Jurassic Park’s goat-eating and jeep thrashing tyrannosaur. It was also North America’s apex predator right before the Cretaceous era ended and dinosaurs became extinct.
T-rex was merely one of several big, carnivorous dinosaurs that controlled diverse ecosystems periodically throughout the dinosaur reign of 130 odd million years. Most top predators that emerged in Asia and North America during the Cretaceous era were Carcharodontosaurs with shark-like teeth or Tyrannosaurs, which were tyrant dinosaurs.
Carcharodontosaurus reigned in the early Cretaceous, but Tyrannosaurs surpassed them and became the fiercest predators. This year two new types of these big Cretaceous carnivores were identified – a Tyrannosaur species from Canada and a Carcharodontosaurs species from Uzbekistan. Although unconnected, there are some fascinating parallels between these two new discoveries.
Paleontologists Jared Voris and Kohei Tanaka visited museums in 2019 to examine fossils in collections. Tanaka visited the State Geological Museum in Uzbekistan, while Voris visited the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta. The famous sequence from the 1993 film Jurassic Park in which the T-rex escapes its enclosure.
Each discovered a fossil specimen that they believed was significant but had been missed. Both fossils were discovered in Cretaceous age rocks in their respective regions and had languished in museum collections for at least a decade without drawing any attention. After months of research, each of these remains was discovered to represent a whole new species of carnivorous dinosaur, previously unknown to science.
Thanatotheristes Degrootorum, which means “reaper of death,” was the name given to the new Tyrannosaur species. The name comes from the predatory role it had in the 80-million-year-old ecology and the original discoverer of the fossil bones, an Alberta rancher named John DeGroot.
Ulugh Beg, a historical person and early astronomer in Uzbekistan, was named after the Carcharodontosaur species Ulughbegsaurus Uzbekistanensis. The two species are known solely from a few head bones, with the remaining skeletons unknown. The most recognized bones are from the jaws – Thanatotheristes’ upper and lower jaws, and Ulughbegsaurus’ top jaw.
The jaws revealed that both species were of similar size. They could determine the dinosaurs’ body sizes based on their preserved bones. Both species would have been roughly eight meters long if measured from the snout’s tip to the tail’s end – the length of a typical school bus.
These researchers revealed that Thanatotheristes and Ulughbegsaurus were the greatest predators in their respective habitats in these two experiments. The prior absence of a big predatory animal in either habitat was perplexing, as colonies of giant plant-eating dinosaurs, like modern herbivores, would have increased unrestrained.
Most other predatory species known from these habitats were tiny, often less than three meters long. In reality, the ancient Uzbekistan ecology also supported a tiny Tyrannosaur species dwarfed by the huge Ulughbegsaurus. All Carcharodontosaurus species were extinct around 90 million years ago; therefore, the Ulughbegsaurus was likely among the last of its type.
Their disappearance created a void in North American and Asian ecosystems, allowing other huge predators to arise and take control. Tyrannosaurs, who had previously been knee-high to a Carcharodontosaurus for tens of millions of years, could now make their move. The Tyrannosaur species grew towards a greater body size approximately 85 million years ago.
Thanatotheristes was one of the first species of these enormous Tyrannosaurs, existing in Alberta’s prehistoric past roughly 80 million years ago. Thanatotheristes and their relatives were among the forebears of bigger tyrannosaur species, such as the 12-meter-long Tyrannosaurus rex. These enormous animals ruled the Cretaceous ecosystems during the last 10 million years before the dinosaur extinction catastrophe.
Guemesia Ochoa – February 2022
In Argentina, paleontologists found a new species of armless carnivorous dinosaurs. This dinosaur lacked horns and had holes in its head, unlike other members of the abelisaurid family. The skull fossil dates from the last dinosaur age before their demise due to an asteroid collision.
Paleontologists uncovered a new species of an armless hunter after unearthing a 70-million-year-old dinosaur head in Argentina. Guemesia Ochoa, the new dinosaur, is an abelisaurid. An abelisaurid is a top-tier predator that lived in what is now South America, Africa, and India.
Scientists believe they preyed on some of the biggest dinosaurs ever known, such as the Titanosaur, a 70-ton herbivore larger than a blue whale. Abelisaurids were formidable hunters that did not use weapons. The appendages were incredibly short, even smaller than T-rex’s, and virtually worthless.
Instead, the deadly predators hunted using their massive heads and teeth. The new dinosaur’s skull was discovered in the Los Blanquitos Formation of red siltstone in northwest Argentina. The unique fossil, unlike previous abelisaurids, features perforations in the front of its head, which might have helped the dinosaur dissipate heat and cool down.
It lacks horns, which are a distinguishing trait of other abelisaurids. These distinctions might imply that Guemesia Ochoa is one of the first abelisaurid species to develop or that it is closely linked to such an ancestor. It possesses numerous crucial traits that indicate it is a new species, delivering valuable new information about a region of the planet about which we know very little.
It demonstrates that the dinosaurs that lived in this region were significantly different from those found in other regions of Argentina, lending credence to the hypothesis of multiple provinces in South America’s Cretaceous period. It also demonstrates that there is much more to be discovered in locations that receive less attention than some of the more well-known fossil sites.
Argentina was a prominent abelisaurid stomping ground, as evidenced by the discovery of 35 species of armless carnivores there, primarily in southern Patagonia. The latest dinosaur discovery shows that northern Argentina may have been home to unusual species in the late Cretaceous period, right before an asteroid collision 66 million years ago killed off the dinosaurs.
At the same excavation location, the scientists discovered numerous more new species, including fish and animals. They are still working on detailing them in papers for publication. This mostly intact skull discovered in Argentina adds to evidence of a distinct ecology during the Late Cretaceous period.
Other carnivore fossils have been discovered in strata spanning Africa, South America, India, and Europe, going back to the Late Cretaceous, right before the dinosaurs were killed 66 million years ago. The skull, like many abelisaurids, has a surprisingly tiny braincase, but even so, the new species has a cranium that is almost 70% smaller than any of its relatives.
This smaller size might indicate that it is a youngster. However, there is contradictory data. A similar lack of clarity may be found in its other characteristics, such as thin portions of the skull and, unlike other abelisaurids, a lack of horns. This might imply that the new species is towards the bottom of the abelisaur family tree or is closely connected to the progenitors of the remainder of the group.
While specific characteristics are yet unknown, the dinosaur has enough distinguishing traits to satisfy experts that it is a new genus and species. It was named after General Martin Miguel de Güemes, an Argentine War of Independence hero, and Javier Ochoa, the museum technician who discovered the specimen.
While many uncertainties remain about the newly discovered abelisaurid, it adds to a growing body of data indicating that northwestern Argentina possessed a distinct group of species unlike those seen elsewhere in the world at the time. Podocnemidoidae turtles like Stupendemys Geographicus, one of the world’s biggest water reptiles, are among them.
Iberospinus Natarioi – February 2022
Mateus and Estraviz-Lopez, researchers affiliated with both the NOVA School of Science and Technology and the Museu da Lourinh, have discovered evidence that suggests a group of fossils discovered in Portugal 23 years ago are the remains of a new species of Spinosaurus – the type of dinosaur featured prominently in the film Jurassic Park III. It has been given the scientific name Iberospinus Natarioi.
Spinosaurids are thought to be the biggest live predators to have ever roamed the Earth’s surface. They were long, with massive back legs, short front legs, long tails, and enormous heads that resembled crocodile heads. During the Mesozoic, they lived in Africa, portions of Britain, and Europe, most notably on the Iberian Peninsula.
Previous studies have revealed that they spent most of their life in the water, but they were also capable of hunting animals on land. Because just a few fossils have been discovered, estimates of their properties are broad. Mateus and Estraviz-Lopez felt that the fossil remains recovered in 1999 at Cabo Espichel, Portugal, had been misidentified in this recent endeavor.
For many years, it was assumed that the bones belonged to a single Spinosaurus known as Baryonyx Walkeri; hence scientists labeled them ML1190. Dorsal vertebrae, rib pieces, a pubis shaft, dentary fragments, an incomplete right scapula, a phalanx bone, a public peduncle, and dorsal neural arches were among the fossils discovered.
When the researchers examined the fossils more closely, they discovered that they were from a species that was likely nine meters long and lived around 125 million years ago. The researchers discovered evidence of a distinct species by analyzing where the nerves would have been in the creature’s jaw and a straight point on the dentary rather than curled as in other Spinosaurids.
It also has a distinct bony ridge on its pubis and lacks the muscular projections present in Baryonyx. They named it Iberospinus Natarioi after the Iberian Peninsula and Carlos Natário, the amateur archaeologist who discovered the fossils in the first place.
Yuxisaurus Kopchicki – March 2022
In southwestern China, a new dinosaur species from the early Jurassic era was unearthed. Scientists discovered the bones of an armored dinosaur, Yuxisaurus Kopchicki, in the Yuxi region of Yunnan province in 2017, an area is known for dinosaur finds. The research on the specimens began in 2019, and the discovery was made public in March 2022.
The prehistoric species is a thyreophoran, just like its distant relative, the Stegosaurus. It existed between 192 million and 174 million years ago and is the first thyreophoran from that era to be discovered in the region. This is the first early armored dinosaur to be identified from the whole Asian continent. It demonstrates how the group traveled over the planet just a few million years ago.
Yuxisaurus Kopchicki was most likely 6.6 to 9.8 feet (2 to 3 meters) long and fed on low-growing plants like ferns and cycads. The animal was coated in a series of bone plates covering its neck, back, and limbs, with enormous spikes dispersed on top of the armor. The spikes had several functions, including repelling most predators’ jaws and teeth and maybe serving as a weapon for showing off to other members of its own species during territorial or mating conflicts.
Porcupines and hedgehogs are two modern-day creatures that act similarly. More than 120 bone deposits were recovered from the dig site, providing the researchers with enough evidence to demonstrate the existence of a new species. Multiple elements of a single skeleton were discovered, including armor plates, limbs, jaws, and a skull.
Furthermore, the discoveries demonstrate how varied the dinosaurs were and how quickly they moved across the northern hemisphere. The herbivorous Scelidosaurus and the Emausaurus, both of which evolved in Europe during the Jurassic era, are the armored dinosaur’s closest cousins. Armored dinosaurs, from the plated Stegosaurus to the tank-like ankylosaurus, are among the most amazing beasts to have ever inhabited the Earth.
This group’s fossils are abundant from the late Jurassic era, 155 million years ago, until the dinosaurs died out. However, just a few early Jurassic fossils survive, making it impossible to grasp how these extraordinary monsters came to be. More early fossils might aid in the understanding of armored dinosaur life and evolution.
Thanatosdrakon Amaru – May 2022
The fossilized bones of a brand new type of Pterosaur dubbed the “Dragon of Death” were unearthed in the Andean Mountains. This 30-foot (9 meter) long predator is said to have reigned supreme over the sky 85 or so million years ago. The “Dragon of Death,” Thanatosdrakon Amaru, was discovered in the Andes highlands of Argentina’s western region.
Around 40 or so well-preserved fossil remains were unearthed by scientists, including vertebrae and leg bones. The freshly reported findings have received attention due to a 1:1 replica of the newly discovered species. Some of the bones exhibit traits not before observed in Pterosaurs, and these remains are the biggest Pterosaur ever unearthed in South America.
These traits were responsible for the newly found species’ lethal nickname. Thanatos is Greek for death, and drakon is Greek for the English word dragon. The Greeks used the name drakon to describe enormous, constricting snakes. The Greek drakon was connected with deadly spit or breath considerably more than the contemporary Western dragon, but flaming breath is still mentioned in a few stories.
Pterosaurs were the first animals to exhibit powered flight and were flying reptiles with hollow bones. Their often vast size aided them in dominating the sky. They are frequently mistaken with other forms of dinosaurs, which are closely related to taxa. Pterosaurs appeared in a variety of sizes and forms.
Many remnants of these terrifying flying animals have been discovered throughout the years. Some Pterosaurs were larger than the “Dragon of Death,” while others were the size of chickens. The newly discovered Pterosaur is the biggest found in South America so far.
White Rock Spinosaurid – June 2022
Bone fragments from a huge Spinosaur, a two-legged crocodile-faced beast that lived 125 million years ago, indicate the land-based predator measured more than 10 meters from snout to tail. Researchers uncovered vertebrae, pelvic bones, and a limb bone in granite eroded from a cliff that had fallen into the shore at Compton Bay on the Isle of Wight’s southwest coast.
Based on the bones, this species might be the biggest predatory dinosaur yet discovered in Europe. While dinosaurs were land-based species, Spinosaurs are known to have spent a significant amount of time in or near water, with fish being a significant percentage of their diet. It’s unknown whether they caught fish or scavenged on them once they washed ashore on shorelines.
The animal was massive, according to Chris Barker, a Ph.D. student who conducted the investigation, albeit too little of the dinosaur has yet to be recovered to identify whether or not it is a new species of Spinosaur. He also stated that while they only have a tiny amount of material, what they have is sufficient to demonstrate that it was a massive creature.
Image courtesy of Anthony Hutchings from the University of Southampton
The finding follows the University of Southampton team’s prior study on spinosaurs, which revealed the discovery of two new species in 2021. Spinosaurs’ family of dinosaurs may have formed in Europe around 150 million years ago and expanded from there.
The latest discovery has been dubbed the White Rock Spinosaurid after the geological strata in which the bones were discovered. Nick Chase, a British dinosaur hunter who died just before the Covid epidemic, uncovered most of the skeletons. They discovered remnants that support the team’s theory that spinosaurid dinosaurs originated and evolved in western Europe before spreading further.
Scientists expect that more remains will be discovered in the future because it is now only known from fragments, and they have not given this species an official scientific name. Marks were found on the bones, including tunnels carved into a portion of the pelvic bone, indicating that the creature died and became food for scavengers.
The perforations in the pelvic bone were the size of a finger and might have been produced by bone-eating larvae of a scavenger beetle. The team now wants to produce thin slices of the bones for examination under a microscope to understand more about the dinosaur’s development rate and likely age.
Until Next Time
And there you have it, proof that dinosaur discoveries are far from being over. Understanding massive global occurrences like mass extinctions need worldwide databases, yet many places on the planet have not been thoroughly researched, and masses of fossils remain undiscovered. Discoveries are made all around the world every year.
Check back with us soon for updates on all things dinosaurs, or leave us a comment and let us know what you’d like us to write about next.