A New Species of Titanosaurian Dinosaur Has Been Discovered

A new species of titanosaurian dinosaur called Sarmientosaurus musacchioi, who lived 95 million years ago, has just been discovered. The findings are based on a complete skull and partial neck fossil unearthed in Patagonia, Argentina.

Sarmientosaurus life reconstruction & skull. (Image: Courtesy of )

Sarmientosaurus life reconstruction and skull. (Image: Courtesy of Ruben Martinez)

Paleontologist Dr. Rubén D. F. Martínez, who discovered the fossil and led the study, said in a statement:

Sarmientosaurus skull in field (Image: Curtesy of Ruben Martinez)

Sarmientosaurus skull in the field. (Image: Courtesy of Ruben Martinez)

This is a special find, as titanosaurs are the largest and arguably most evolved of the sauropod dinosaurs; however their small skulls are often missing from their massive body. Using CT scanning, the stunningly preserved fossil skull has given researchers a chance to discover enticing clues about the animal’s sensory capabilities.

Sarmientosaurus excavation. (Image: Courtesy of Ruben Martinez)

Sarmientosaurus excavation. (Image: Courtesy of Ruben Martinez)

Matthew Lamanna study co-author and a paleontologist from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pennsylvania said: “More than 60 legit titanosaur species have been named to date.” However the Sarmientosaurus is only the fourth to have an entire skull, adding:

Paleontologists have now an unparalleled insight into the sensory capabilities and behavior of the now named Sarmientosaurus musacchioi. It had a small-brain, good eyesight, its hearing was tuned to low frequencies, and habitually held its head with its snout facing downward, and featured a mouth full of sharp teeth, according to the paper published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Martinez & Lamanna with the Sarmientosaurus skull. (Image: Courtesy of Matt Lamanna)

Martinez & Lamanna with the Sarmientosaurus skull. (Image: Courtesy of Matt Lamanna)

According to Ohio University anatomist Lawrence Witmer, an expert on cranial anatomy:

Sarmientosaurus was 40 to 50 feet long (12-15 meters) and weighed 8 to 12 tons. It belongs to the group called titanosaurs, which were plant-eating dinosaurs known for long necks, long tails, and enormous bodies.

Sarmientosaurus head posture, brain & eye. (Image: Courtesy of WitmerLab)

Sarmientosaurus head posture, brain, and eye. (Image: Courtesy of WitmerLab)

The Sarmientosaurus hearing organ was long, which indicates good hearing over long distances of low-frequency sounds transmitted over long distances. Their eye sockets and eyeballs were somewhat large which suggest their vision was particularly important.

The orientation of the inner ear points toward the Sarmientosaurus, that had a nose-down head posture, indicating that it most likely fed mostly on ground plants rather than cropping leaves from tall trees, Witmer said.

The Sarmientosaurus certainly did not have a lot of brain matter, with Witmer adding:

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