Published June 27, 2012
Argentine scientists have announced the discovery of a new species of carnivorous dinosaur, saying it could prove key to understanding how modern birds' remote ancestors evolved.
The fossil remains of the new species, dubbed "Bicentenaria argentina" (Argentine Bicentenary) and presented Tuesday by researchers at Buenos Aires' Argentine Museum of Natural Sciences, or MACN, were found in the southern province of Rio Negro.
"It is very likely the first example that's been found of a new line within the coelurosaur family, those dinosaurs that eventually gave rise to birds," the National Council on Scientific and Technical Research, or CONICET, which oversees the MACN, said in a statement.
Adult members of this species, presumably hunters based on the shape of their teeth and the presence of claws, likely measured up to 3 meters (9.8 feet) in length and were agile and slim.
"We can presume that they would have hunted smaller dinosaurs, herbivores or baby dinosaurs," Fernando Novas, the head of the museum and an independent CONICET researcher, said.
Researchers believe this dinosaur's body was likely covered in feathers.
The rocks containing this dinosaur's fossil remains date back 90 million years to the Late Cretaceous period - between 65-98 million years ago.