The remains of an incredibly unusual new species of toothless dinosaur have been discovered in Brazil. It was named Berthasaura leopoldinae in reference to a National Museum scientist named Bertha Lutz who passed away in 1976, and Empress Leopoldina who was Brazil’s first empress and passed away in 1826.
Berthasaura leopoldinae had two legs, a mouth that looks like a beak, and absolutely no teeth. Described by researchers as being an “extremely unusual” discovery, it roamed Brazil between 80 and 70 million years ago.
The discovery was made close to a rural road in the municipality of Cruzeiro do Oeste, in the Brazilian state of Paraná. Paleontologists unearthed the “almost entire” and “well preserved” Berthasaura leopoldinae skeleton that belonged to a group of predatory dinosaurs called Theropoda.
Theropods were bipedal dinosaurs that were mostly carnivorous and feasted on both small and large creatures as they could run fast and were very agile. Some of them only grew to about 2 feet in length (0.6 meters) – like the Microraptor – while others were much larger like the 40-foot-long Tyrannosaurus rex (12.2 meters).
The Berthasaura leopoldinae skeleton found in Brazil measured approximately 3 feet in length (0.9 meters) and 2.5 feet in height (0.8 meters). They had three toes and air-filled bones – very similar to their modern descendants of birds. They also built nests to put their eggs in, and some of them had feathers.
According to the paleontologists who made the discovery, they described it as being a “...big surprise” and that it is “one of the most complete Cretaceous dinosaurs yet discovered in Brazil”.
As for what it feasted on, Geovane Alves de Souza, who is one of the study’s authors, went into details, “The toothless part raises questions about what kind of nutrition this animal had,” adding, “However, this does not rule out the possibility that it ate meat. Many birds, such as falcons and buzzards, use their beaks to devour meat. Most likely, it was an omnivore forced to eat anything it could in a harsh habitat.” A picture of what the newly identified toothless Berthasaura leopoldinae would have looked like can be viewed here.
The study was published in Scientific Reports where it can be read in full.