By: Alexandra Rimbu
A new dinosaur species has been discovered in Argentina. Paleontologists have dubbed it Llukalkan aliocranianus, or “The one who causes fear”. This name is derived from the fact the creature appears to be even more terrifying than its cousin, the T. Rex, bearing enormous claws, a skull covered in bumps, horns, and deep-seated crests, and razor-sharp teeth.
The species’s appearance alone was enough to invoke fear into its prey and make it a successful predator, but what truly made Llukalkan aliocranianus a unique apex predator was its incredible hearing.
The Llukalkan aliocranianus had cavities in the ear area that other abelisaurids, a class of carnivorous bipeds including the T. Rex, did not have. Llukalkan aliocranianus’s extraordinary sense of hearing was actually provided by one of these cavities – a unique air-filled sinus pocket near its middle ear.
The species also possessed a powerful sense of smell. This powerful combination of super hearing and olfactory senses was a tremendous advantage in the food chain and served to further establish the species as a top predator.
Paleontologists have dubbed this discovery as significant to the research of all dinosaur species as a whole. “These dinosaurs were still trying out new evolutionary pathways and rapidly diversifying right before they died out completely”, said Ariel Mendez, a paleontologist from the Patagonian Institute of Geology and Paleontology.
Paleontologists have also labeled this discovery as particularly significant for abelisaurids themselves. National University of San Luis, Argentina, paleontologist Gianechini said, “This is a particularly important discovery because it suggests that the diversity and abundance of abelisaurids were remarkable, not only across Patagonia, but also in more local areas during the dinosaurs’ twilight period”.
Ginanechini remarked that he believes this find will signal many more important abelisaurid discoveries to come. He believes that the fact of the Llukalkan aliocranianus’s hearing ability alone means that researchers have more to learn than previously thought, and this discovery has unlocked new pathways to unlocking the secrets of these prehistoric creatures.
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