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Buenos Aires (AFP) – Argentine paleontologists have announced the discovery of an apical predatory dinosaur that measured three stories from nose to tail and eviscerated its prey with sharp, curved claws.
Paleontologist Mauro Aranciaga told AFP that the six-ton behemoth, the largest gigantic crayfish ever discovered, fed on smaller dinosaurs, which it ripped to shreds with its claws before dug into its intestines.
Aranciaga said it would have been the ‘top predator’ of its time – and well deserved its scientific name ‘Maip macrothorax’.
Part One “Maip” is derived from a mythical “evil” character of the indigenous Aonikenk people in Patagonia.
The character has been associated with the “shadow of death” that “kills with cold winds” in the Andes, according to a study published in Nature Journal Scientific Reports.
The second part, “macrothorax,” refers to the enormous extension of the creature’s chest cavity—about 1.2 meters (3.9 ft).
The newly identified beast is nine to ten meters long, larger than any previously discovered species of megaraptor — a group of carnivorous giants that once roamed what is now South America, according to the Aranciaga team.
She lived about 70 million years ago near the end of the Cretaceous period in what was then a tropical forest, long before the Andean mountain range and glaciers that now define Patagonia.
The killer crawler had two sharply curved claws per front paw, each talon measuring about 40 cm (15.7 in) long.
Aranciaga, now 29, was fortunate to find his first Maip on his first-ever professional expedition three years ago to the province of Santa Cruz in Argentina.
This led to months of meticulous digging and cleaning and grading of a large cache of bones: the vertebrae as well as parts of the rib, hip, tail and arm.
“When I lifted the paragraph and saw that it had the properties of a megaraptor, it was a tremendous thrill,” Aranciaga recalls.
“Somehow I fulfilled my childhood dream … to find a new fossil and it turned out to be gigantic: the group I specialized in,” he told AFP.
MEP was one of the last giant planes to inhabit Earth before the dinosaurs went extinct about 66 million years ago, according to Fernando Novas of the Laboratory of Comparative Anatomy of the Argentine Museum of Natural Sciences.
It’s also the southernmost megaraptor, added Aranciaga, a doctoral fellow at Argentina’s National Council for Scientific and Technical Research (Conicet).
© 2022 AFP
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