Vespersaurus paranaensis


A new species of dinosaur was discovered in northwestern Paraná and is particularly specific for some reasons. The place where it was found is Caiuá Group, and is a first representative of the dinosaurs to be found there. The Caiuá group lies within the Bauru sub-basin and in the same amplitude, the specimen found is the best preserved theropod in the region and, by all accounts, the most complete theropod in Brazil. The baptized Vespersaurus paranaensis (vesper means west in Latin, in reference to where was found, Cruzeiro do Oeste, and paranaensis makes mention of the State of Paraná, is made the first to be found). Vespersaurus is a type of material identically identified through Brazilian material.

Three-dimensional representation of the skeleton of Vespersaurus paranaensis indicating (in gold) the bones that were found – Photo: Rodolfo Nogueira


It is a species belonging to the enigmatic group of Noasaurinae, small theropod predators of the Upper Cretaceous of the supercontinent of Gondwana. Dinosaurs of this group are most commonly found in Argentina and Madagascar, with rare fossil findings.

Right paw of Vespersaurus paranensis as preserved in rock, note the claw of the fourth finger-shaped blade. Photo by Paulo Manzig.

Vespersaurus average about 80 cm in height and 1.5 m in length. Carnivore, fed on small animals through the immense prehistoric desert of Botucatu. It was bipedal, with 4 toes in the foot, however, only 3 of them going forward and using only the middle one for support. The remaining fingers remained suspended, as observed in the dromeossaurid fossils, free to be used in attacks.

Fossil footprints had already indicated the presence of a monodactyl dinosaur by these bands, although it was not yet known who they belonged to.

“It is incredible that, almost 50 years later, it seems we have discovered what kind of dinosaur would have produced those enigmatic footprints.” says geologist researcher Paulo Manzig, the first researcher to investigate the fossils of Cruzeiro do Oeste and co-author of the study.

Reconstruction during the life of Vespersaurus paranensis. Image Credit: Rodolfo Nogueira

The species still had pneumatic vertebrae, which certainly made the animal lighter, something similar to what is observed in modern birds.

The fossil studied by paleontologists from the University of São Paulo (USP) and State of Maringá (UEM), as well as researchers from the Argentine Museum of Natural Sciences and the Museum of Paleontology from Cruzeiro do Oeste.

The paleoartist Rodolfo Nogueira produced the representations of the species described in the article. Check the video and the representation made by him.



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