New Ceratosaur Species Unearthed in South America

Remains of a toothless, two-legged dinosaur species that lived some 70 million years ago has been discovered in Brazil, researchers said Thursday, calling it a “very rare” find.

The small dinosaur, which measured about a meter (three feet) long and 80 centimeters (two and a half feet) tall, is a theropod, a group whose members were almost all believed to be carnivores.

But puzzlingly, the new species – dubbed Berthasaura leopoldinae – has a beak-like mouth with no teeth.

“That was a real surprise,” the paleontologists who made the find said in a statement released by Brazil’s National Museum.

The well-preserved skeleton of Berthasaura leopoldinae was found at a paleontological site named Cemitério dos Pterossauros Quarry in Brazil’s Paraná state.

They published their findings in the journal Nature, calling the discovery “one of the most complete dinosaurs found from the Cretaceous period in Brazil.”

“The toothless part raises doubts about what kind of diet this animal had,” said researcher Geovane Alves Souza, one of the study’s authors.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean it didn’t eat meat, though. Lots of birds, such as falcons and buzzards, eat meat with beaks. Most likely, it was an omnivore living in an inhospitable environment where it had to eat whatever it could.”

Berthasaura leopoldinae represents the most complete known noasaurid species from Brazil.

“It also represents the most complete non-avian theropod from the Brazilian Cretaceous and preserves the most complete noasaurid axial series known so far,” the scientists said.

“Moreover, the new taxon exhibits many novel osteological features, uncommon in non-avian theropods, and unprecedented even among South American ceratosaurs.”

“These include not only toothless jaws but also a premaxilla with cutting occlusal edge, and a slightly downturned rostral tip.”

“This indicate that Berthasaura leopoldinae unlikely had the same diet as other ceratosaurs, most being regarded as carnivorous.”

“In summary, Berthasaura leopoldinae is a nearly complete and well-preserved noasaurid that possesses unique anatomical features among ceratosaurs, particularly the edentulous rostrum,” they added.