Six new species of dinosaurs have been found after researchers from the University of Alberta analyzed theropod teeth from eight regions in Spain.
STUDY ON TEETH REVEALED SIX NEW DINOSAURS OF THE THEROPOD SPECIES
University of Alberta researchers have quadrupled the number of known dinosaur species in Spain from only two species to eight new dinosaurs species. The research was conducted using 142 isolated theropod teeth from a part of the South Pyrenean Basin dated around the Late Cretaceous epoch.
The teeth analyzed in the study were from eight different localities in Spain, including Treviño County, Huesca, Lerida, and Laño. Though two species of theropod were already known, the researchers happened across six additional species during their research on dinosaur evolution at the final stages of the Cretaceous period.
The new species of theropod would have been present during the timeframe that spanned the Campanian age, which lasted about 83.6 million to 72.1 million years ago, and the Maastrichtian age, from 72.1 million to 66 million years ago.
The study was published in the journal Acta Palaeontologica Polonica.
MORE TEETH MEANS MORE THEROPODS FOR RESEARCHERS IN SPAIN
Though the research was not initially to investigate the number of theropod species in the area, the sample of 142 isolated teeth revealed more species than researchers could have imagined.
Through analysis, the study concluded that a total of six toothed theropod species had lived in the area, five of which had been small, while the last one was large in comparison.
Angelica Torices, lead author of the study from the University of Alberta, believes the importance of the discovery may help lead paleontologists to better understand how the dinosaurs lived and what caused their extinction.
As no complete theropod skeletons have been revealed in Spain and the surrounding countries, paleontologists must rely on the smallest element available to know the timeline of dinosaur evolution: theropod teeth.
Though teeth may seem to be rather small, Torices and the other researchers say the teeth are the key to reconstructing the dinosaurs lives, especially in Europe during the Late Cretaceous ages.
DIVERSITY OF CARNIVOROUS DINOSAURS IN CRETACEOUS EUROPE
Theropods are a species of carnivorous dinosaurs who frequently lost and subsequently replaced their teeth. A massive number of teeth would be produced by one dinosaur during its lifetime.
These dental fixtures would fall out when the time was ready, only to be found millions of years later by scientists eager to learn more about the lives of theropods.
Though nothing else of the dinosaurs remained, the teeth showed their value in this study as their armed researchers with the knowledge that even the tiniest bit of extra information can help fill in the gaps in the evolutionary timeline of theropods.
The study researchers believe their findings have highlighted the diversity of carnivorous dinosaurs in Europe, but will also highlight how these dinosaurs and other large animals responded to climate change.
The fossil record may be incomplete for now, but at least the six new dinosaur species have been found thanks to a few forgotten teeth.