A team of Spanish and Argentine paleontologists has discovered the remains of a dinosaur that lived 110 million years ago in the centre of the country, the National University of La Matanza has revealed.
The remains came from three separate dinosaurs from the herbivorous group of sauropods, the best known of which are the Diplodocus and Brontosaurus. This new species has been named Lavocatisaurus agrioensis.
"We found most of the cranial bones: the snout, the jaws, a lot of teeth, also the bones that define the eye sockets for example and, in that way, we were able to create an almost complete reconstruction," Jose Luis Carballido, a researcher at the Egidio Feruglio museum and the national council of scientific investigations, said Friday. Parts of the neck, tail and back were also found.
"Not only is this the discovery of a new species in an area where you wouldn't expect to find fossils, but the skull is almost complete," added Carballido.
The remains belonged to an adult of around 12 metres (39 feet) in length, and two minors of around six to seven metres. The paleontologists say the dinosaurs moved around in a group and died together.
"This discovery of an adult and two juveniles also signifies the first record of a group displacement among the rebbachisaurus dinosaurs," said study lead author Jose Ignacio Canudo of Zaragoza University.
The area in which the fossils were found is unusual for dinosaurs as it would have been a desert with sporadic lakes in that era.
Sauropods were the biggest creatures ever to walk the planet. It is believed that Supersaurus could reach up 33-34 metres in length and Argentinosaurus might have weighed up to 120 tonnes. They were herbivorous quadrupeds with long necks and tails, massive bodies and small heads.
But the discovery in Neuquen, published in the scientific journal Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, remains a huge surprise.
"While one can imagine that this group of sauropods could have adapted to move in more arid environments, with little vegetation, little humidity and little water, it's an area in which you wouldn't be looking for fossils," said Carballido.
(With inputs from agencies.)