Fossils: Scientists reconstruct Carnotaurus – revealing a complex coat of scales, bumps and wrinkles
Scientists have painted a new picture of Carnotaurus — the “flesh-eating bull” dinosaur — with complex fur, studs, thorns, bumps and wrinkles.
The updated reconstruction comes after paleontologists led by Argentina’s Unidad Ejecutora Lillo examined the fossilized skin in more detail.
The only known specimen of Carnotaurus, named for its horned skull, was found in 1984 by paleontologist José Bonaparte in his home country of Argentina.
Excavated on a farm near Bajada Moreno, in Chubut province, the 8-meter-long fossil skeleton was also preserved, unusually, with sheets of its scaly skin.
This made Carnotaurus — which lived in the Late Cretaceous Period 71 million years ago — the first carnivorous dinosaur to be found with its skin.
Scientists have painted a new image of Carnotaurus – the ‘flesh-eating bull’ dinosaur – with a complex layer of scales, studs, thorns, bumps and wrinkles, as pictured
The updated reconstruction comes after paleontologists led by Argentina’s Unidad Ejecutora Lillo examined the fossilized skin in more detail. Pictured: A natural negative relief of the skin on the right side of the anterior tail region of Carnotaurus, with close-ups
The only known specimen of Carnotaurus, named for its horned skull, was found in 1984 by paleontologist José Bonaparte in his home country of Argentina. Pictured: Then-student Guillermo Rougier poses next to the recently found skull of Carnotaurus
Kind: Carnotaurus sastrei
lived: 71 million years ago
Length: Approx. 26 feet (8 meters)
Weight: 1.35 tons
Notable features: thick horns above the eyes, rudimentary forearms and slender hind legs that probably made it a fast runner.
The analysis of the skin of Carnotaurus was performed by paleontologists Christophe Hendrickx of the Unidad Ejecutora Lillo in Argentina and Phil Bell of the University of New England, Australia.
Contrary to previous (and shorter) studies of the dinosaur’s skin, the duo reported finding no evidence that the scales lay in irregular rows, or that they changed size depending on their body location, as can be seen in some modern ones. lizards.
“Looking at the skin on the shoulders, abdomen and tail, we found that this dinosaur’s skin was more diverse than previously thought,” says Dr Hendrickx.
It consisted, he added, “of large and randomly distributed cone-shaped nubs, surrounded by a network of small elongated, rhombic or under-circular scales.”
The diamond-shaped scales resemble those on the skin of modern-day tyrannosaurids.
The largest scales on Carnotaurus (characteristic scales) were found scattered across the creature’s thorax, as well as along its tail.
According to Dr. Bell, an expert on dinosaur skin, the large nubs and small scales on the Carnotaurus specimen resemble those of the thorny devil lizard that lives in the Australian Outback today.
And, the duo explained, the scales are said to have been important in regulating Carnotaurus’ body temperature, just like in modern reptiles.
Unlike many recently unearthed dinosaur specimens — especially those from China — Carnotaurus was completely scaly and showed no evidence of sporting feathers.
Contrary to previous (and shorter) studies of the dinosaur’s skin, the researchers reported that they found no evidence that the scales lay in irregular rows — or that they changed size depending on their body location, as can be seen in some modern ones. lizards. Pictured: An Artistic Impression of What Carnotaurus Looked Like in Life
According to Dr. Bell – who is an expert in dinosaur skin – the large studs and small scales on the Carnotaurus specimen resemble those of the spiny devil lizard (pictured above in close-up) that lives in the Australian Outback today
“Looking at the skin on the shoulders, abdomen and tail, we found that this dinosaur’s skin was more diverse than previously thought,” says Dr Hendrickx. Pictured: Close-up photos of the shell on Carnotaurus (top row) with other dinosaur species
The researchers aren’t entirely sure why Carnotaurus had such a diverse array of large and small scales.
In 1997, researchers suggested that some of the larger, cone-shaped scales on the dinosaur may have “provided some degree of protection during confrontations.”
drs. However, Bell and Hendrickx said their analysis suggests these scales would have done little to protect Carnotaurus from being bitten.
Instead, they propose, “in Carnotaurus and more generally among dinosaurs, distinctive scales may simply have served a display/coloring function.”
The study’s full findings were published in the journal Chalk research.
The only known specimen of Carnotaurus was unearthed in 1984 by paleontologist José Bonaparte on a farm near Bajada Moreno, in Chubut Province. The six-meter fossil skeleton was also, unusually, preserved with sheets of its scaly skin
HOW DID THE DINOSAURS SET OUT ABOUT 66 MILLION YEARS AGO?
Dinosaurs ruled and dominated the Earth about 66 million years ago, before suddenly becoming extinct.
The Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event is the name given to this mass extinction.
For years it was believed that the changing climate was destroying the food chain of the huge reptiles.
In the 1980s, paleontologists discovered a layer of iridium.
This is an element that is rare on Earth, but found in large quantities in space.
When dated, it coincided exactly with when the dinosaurs disappeared from the fossil record.
A decade later, scientists discovered the massive Chicxulub crater on the tip of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, which dates back to the period in question.
Scientific consensus now says that these two factors are linked and that they were both likely caused by a huge asteroid that crashed into Earth.
At the projected size and impact speed, the collision would have created a massive shock wave and likely triggered seismicity.
The fallout would have created plumes of ash that likely covered the entire planet and made it impossible for dinosaurs to survive.
Other animal and plant species had shorter time spans between generations that allowed them to survive.
There are several other theories as to what caused the famous animals’ demise.
An early theory was that small mammals ate dinosaur eggs, and another holds that poisonous angiosperms (flowering plants) killed them.