In Argentina, dinosaur hunters embark on next phase
A few months ago, Argentine scientists found the remains of a giant dinosaur. Now they look forward to digging up hundreds more fossils, but what they really want is the big one’s head.
In recent years, the discovery of fossils of such sauropods — giant plant-eaters with thin necks and a long tail — in Argentina’s Patagonia region confirmed that the remote area was once home to the largest dinosaurs to roam the Earth.
In May, scientists announced they had found the remains of a humongous 80-ton sauropod and bones of six other specimens of the creature.
It marked a milestone for paleontologists and prompted them to plan more digs for the southern hemispheric spring starting in September and summer starting in December.
The goal is to find a sauropod skull, which could come up as diggers gingerly search amid the rocks for more fossils.
“All we have from the skull is a tooth,” said Jose Luis Carballido, a paleontologist from the Egidio Feruglio Museum in the city of Trelew, 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) south of Buenos Aires.
“Finding the skull is particularly important because there are not too many skulls from sauropods from this stage of the evolution we believe these animals went through,” he told AFP.
Until now scientists have seen skulls from an earlier evolutionary stage and then from a later one, said Carballido.
The remains found this year are from an animal that was “in the middle of that evolution, but we do not know what its head looked like,” he added.