Sarmientosaurus is a Newly Discovered Titanosaur From Argentina

Posted on April 27, 2016

Sarmientosaurus musacchioi

A new species of titanosaur has been identified from a complete skull fossil and partial neck fossil unearthed in Patagonia, Argentina. The titanosaur has been named Sarmientosaurus musacchioi.

The titanosaur was identified by Ruben Martinez from the Laboratorio de Paleovertebrados of the Universidad Nacional de la Patagonia San Juan Bosco (UNPSJB), Argentina, and colleagues. The name comes from the town of Sarmiento in Chubut Province, which is close to where the fossil was found. The name also honors the late Dr. Eduardo Musacchio, a paleontologist and professor at the UNPSJB and friend to Dr. Martínez and other team members.

Sarmientosaurus digital skull rendering

Complete skulls of these very large plant-eaters are quite rare. Of the 60-plus named titanosaurs, only four are represented by nearly complete or semi-complete skulls. The researchers used computerized tomography (CT) imaging to analyze the fossils from Sarmientosaurus.

The researchers say Sarmientosaurus had a brain that was small relative to its enormous body. They did find evidence of greater sensory capabilities than most other sauropods. They suspect Sarmientosaurus had large eyeballs and good vision. They also think its inner ear may have been better tuned for hearing low-frequency airborne sounds compared to other titanosaurs. The findings also suggest Sarmientosaurus may have fed on low-growing plants based. This theory is based on the balance organ of the inner ear which indicates the dinosaur may have habitually held its head with the snout facing downward.

Martinez says in a statement, "Discoveries like Sarmientosaurus happen once in a lifetime. That's why we studied the fossils so thoroughly, to learn as much about this amazing animal as we could."

A research paper on the findings can be found here in the journal, PLOS One.

Images: Mark A. Klingler, Carnegie Museum of Natural History and WitmerLab, Ohio University

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