A new study has revealed that the species of tooth belonging to a mosasauroids dinosaur, nicknamed “Ludwig the Great,” may have belonged to a new species of dinosaur, not a new genus.
The study, published online May 31 in the journal PLOS ONE, used an algorithm to determine whether the tooth was of a new group or a new taxon.
This new finding, called “Mosaasaur Dentition as a Taxonomic Classification”, is based on analyses of the fossil record.
The new species is not a newly discovered dinosaur, but instead belongs to a previously unknown genus of mosasaurs known as the Turocrachia, according to the authors.
Mosaasesaur teeth are believed to have come into existence in the Jurassic period, around 65 million years ago.
The group includes the large mosasuchus (small dinosaurs) and the small mosasausaur (big ones).
Mosaosaurs, which are larger than Tyrannosaurus rex, are the smallest members of the mosasaura family.
The scientists found that the teeth belonged to the new genus, and not to any previously discovered species of the genus.
“The discovery of a newly identified taxon is important for understanding the phylogeny of mososaurs,” said study author Michael Korsch of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.
“We are now at a point in time where we have enough information to create a new category and label it as a new mosasaurs group.”
Scientists used the method to determine that the new species belonged to an extinct group called the TUROCRACHIA.
The discovery will be important for the study of the evolution of large dinosaurs, which were the most widespread of dinosaurs.
“It’s a very exciting discovery,” said co-author Daniel Lefevre, a paleontologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
“The TUROCACHIA are one of the largest families of dinosaurs and have a much longer record than the other large groups.”
The new taxonomy also is important because it indicates that dinosaurs have been living in the same ecological niche as their relatives, for example, the ancestors of modern birds.
For example, mosasosaurs are believed by many to have originated from birds and mammals.
“We have very little evidence for dinosaurs from a bird-like origin and much less evidence for a mammal-like or even a bird species,” Lefvre said.
“This is very important because these two different groups are at the root of the story of dinosaur evolution.”
The findings also shed light on the evolution and diversification of mosavasauria.
“If we can reconstruct the fossilization history of mosapods, the mosavachans could be an important part of the evolutionary history of this group,” said lead author Jörg Scheinberg, a vertebrate palaeontologist from the Max-Planck Institute in Leipsburg, Germany, who was not involved in the study.