Photo Credit: AFP
A new species of a plant-eating dinosaur has been discovered in the world's driest desert in Chile. The Arackar Licanantay belongs to the gigantic titanosaur dinosaur family tree, according to an infographic shared by news agency AFP on Twitter. The term Arackar Licanantay means “Atacama bones” in the Kunza language. Though the Atacama Desert is the driest in the world, recent studies suggest that Arackar lived in what would have been a lush landscape of flowering plants and palm trees during the Cretaceous period 66-80 million years ago. Today, Atacama is rocky and barren, having gone without rain for nearly 100 years.
The discovered remains include femur — thigh bone — numerous parts of the vertebrae from the neck and back and a part of the hip bone. Even though the specimen belongs to a large, quadruped, herbivore, measuring some 6.3 metres, scientists say the remains are that of a younger Arackar.
The AFP infographic says that the dinosaur is a “modest-size member of the gigantic titanosaur family” and is estimated to have weighed at least 3,000 kg. Adults, it is estimated, may have grown up to eight meters in length. Arackar had a small head and long neck and tail, and what's been described as an unusually flat back, compared to others like it. The remains will eventually be exhibited in Chile's Museum of Natural History, which is now shut due to coronavirus restrictions.
According to a Reuters report, the remains of a titanosaur were first discovered in the 1990s. It was formally announced in an article published in the journal Cretaceous Research.
In 2014, the remains of another titanosaur was unearthed in Argentina, as reported by BBC News. Its estimated length was over than 37 metres, making it one of biggest dinosaurs ever discovered. It was a sauropod — a long-necked, long-tailed, plant-eating dinosaur. It is estimated that the beast could have lived in Patagonia when it was surrounded by lush green forests about 100 million years ago.
The discovery of new dinosaur species is always a matter of joy. These beasts are an amazing testament to the wonders of evolution.