In some areas of the world, the fossils of sauropod dinosaurs are so common that paleontologists literally trip over the bones of these huge, long-necked, long-tailed plant-eaters that many people think of when they hear the word “dinosaur.”
While some kinds of sauropod bones are common, others such as skulls are more elusive – which makes a new discovery that was coauthored by a Carnegie Museum of Natural History paleontologist very exciting.
A skull discovered in a rural area of southern Chubut Province, Argentina, will give a face and name to a ten-ton sauropod that plodded around the southern hemisphere about 95 million years ago – Sarmientosaurus musacchioi.
Assistant Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology Matt Lamanna worked on a team that named the new species of dinosaur, which he said will yield a wealth of insights into the biology and behavior of titanosaurs, a group of sauropods that includes the most massive land animals that have ever existed. The fossil was originally discovered by the team leader Rubén Martínez of the Universidad Nacional de la Patagonia San Juan Bosco in Chubut.
The skull Martínez and his team discovered is arguably the most complete and well-preserved titanosaur skull ever found. It provides scientists with their first good look at the head of an
anatomically primitive titanosaur.
Scientists from Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine were able to reconstruct a model of what the dinosaur’s brain would have looked like. Despite the colossal size of the animal, its brain was probably only the size of an orange!
Lamanna said that Sarmientosaurus is one of the most exciting discoveries he’s worked on in his career and will provide researchers with information on the origins and evolutionary relationships of titanosaurs.
Above: Research team members Dr. Rubén Martínez (Universidad Nacional de la Patagonia San Juan Bosco, Comodoro Rivadavia, Argentina, right), and Dr. Matt Lamanna (Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh, USA, left) with the skull and neck skeleton of the new titanosaurian dinosaur species Sarmientosaurus musacchioi.
Further information and resources:
Still images, animations, and interactive 3D digital model for download (with captions and credits): https://www.dropbox.com/sh/in3tupno91h0haw/AACJmvc05hB7fk5tkeNcwgCBa?dl=0
YouTube animation of the Sarmientosaurus skull and brain endocast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zb8e5ffEC74
Interactive Sketchfab animation of the Sarmientosaurus skull: https://skfb.ly/MKOP
Interactive Sketchfab animation of the transparent Sarmientosaurus skull showing the brain endocast inside: https://skfb.ly/MKLO
Interactive Sketchfab animation of the Sarmientosaurus brain endocast: https://skfb.ly/MKKH