2000 – Santanaraptor announced
On this day in dinosaurs, a 112 million year old theropod from South America took its place in the paleontological sun.
At about 4 feet long, the “thief from the Santana Formation” doesn’t seem incredibly ferocious, but researchers believe it may be the earliest member of the tyrannosaur family found in the southern hemisphere. Later studies indicated the dinosaur is definitely a coelurosaur, and perhaps a more distant relation of the tyrannosaurs.
Also noteworthy, Santanaraptor was discovered with mineralized soft tissue of skin and muscle. Though the specimen was incomplete and the soft tissue fossils are not substantial enough for celebrations, the dinosaur does shed light on coelurosaur evolution on the Mesozoic southern continent, Gondwana.