Ypupiara lopai: Brazilian scientists identified for the first time in the country a species of dromeosaurid, a carnivorous dinosaur considered the closest relative of birds. The specimen named Ypupiara lopai was found in Peirópolis — city of the Triângulo Mineiro — between the 1940s and 1960s, and is an important piece of Brazil’s geological past, from the Cretaceous period (approximately 145-65 million years ago).
The group’s most famous representative is Velociraptor, a biped genus that inhabited the Earth about 70 million years ago. Although its most common fossils originate from the United States and countries in Asia, the discovery brings more clues about the evolution and distribution of dromeosaurids in South America.
It is believed that the Ypupiara would have been between 2.5 and 3 meters in length, a characteristic that classifies it as medium to large – compared to a raptor – and indicates its habits.
“Very likely these [creatures] fed on fish and small animals, such as amphibians and lizards, which is consistent with the scenario of the Triângulo Mineiro between approximately 72 million and 66 million years ago, near the end of the Cretaceous, which marks the extinction of the non-avian dinosaurs”, says the official communiqué from the Museu Nacional/UFRJ, an institution of part of the researchers responsible for the discovery.
The research was led by Arthur Souza Brum, from the Department of Geology and Paleontology at the Museu Nacional. It is the result of joint work with other national scientific institutions: Amazon Museum, Federal University of ABC (UFABC), and Earth Science Museum, linked to the Geological Survey of Brazil.
The study was published in the scientific journal Papers in Palaeontology and was based on the description of two bones: a maxilla with three implanted teeth and a dental one. Unfortunately, both records were lost in the 2018 fire, which destroyed part of the museum and its collections.
“It is works like this that confirm that [the institution] is still alive, and our scientific activities remain uninterrupted and with great discoveries in the international scope”, said Alexander Kellner, director of the National Museum/UFRJ, in a statement from the institution.