Researchers at the Federal University of Santa Maria (Brazil) have discovered the almost intact fossil of the world’s oldest carnivorous dinosaur Gnathovorax cabreirai (G. cabreirai) in southern Brazil.
They lived on Earth 230 million years ago, when South America was still part of the Pangea supercontinent.
G. cabreirai dinosaurs were about 3 m long and weighed nearly half a ton, significantly larger than most prey living at the same time.
“Fossil evidence suggests that G. cabreirai has strong jaw structures, sharp teeth and claws. These were the factors that made them the killing machines of the Tam Diep, before larger carnivorous dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus rex and Allosaurus appeared during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, ”said Rodrigo Muller, a member of the team, said.
The researchers used computerized tomography (CT) to reconstruct the brain of G. cabreirai and found they were predators with good eyesight.
“This approach helps reveal previously undiscovered aspects of neuroscience in dinosaurs, including the development of the brain lobes that control eye and head movement,” Muller said.