New dinosaur species found in Mexico might have talked like elephants

  • Researchers say the recently identified ‘Tlatolophus galorum’ could have communicated with both low-frequency sounds and loud noises
  • Paleontologists discovered the colourful ancient reptile in the Mexican state of Coahuila
Agence France-Presse |

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This illustration from Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History shows a new species of dinosaur that could communicate with each other. Photo: Reuters

A new species of dinosaur identified by Mexican paleontologists is believed to have been “very communicative” and used low-frequency sounds like elephants to talk to each other, a researcher said Friday.

The specimen, which has been named Tlatolophus galorum, is thought to have died around 72 million years ago in what is now Mexico’s northern state of Coahuila.

After initially discovering the tail, paleontologists said they later found most of its skull, a 1.32-metre (4.3-foot) bony hollow crest through which it communicated, as well as bones such as its femur and shoulder.

“We are calculating the size, which could be between eight metres and 12 metres long because just the tail is around six metres,” said paleobiologist Angel Alejandro Ramirez.

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“We believe that these dinosaurs were very communicative. They even produced and perceived low-frequency sounds like those made by elephants, which travel several kilometres and are imperceptible to humans,” added Ramirez.

These “peaceful, but talkative” dinosaurs could also have had the ability to emit loud sounds to scare off predators, the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) in Mexico said on Thursday when it announced the discovery.

Mexican researchers think Tlatolophus galorum’s crest may have been red.

“We believe that these dinosaurs, like modern birds, saw in colour, and so these structures – like the crest – were possibly brightly coloured. They could have been completely red, or multi-coloured, with spots,” Ramirez said.

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The discovery is still under investigation, but research about the ancient reptile has already been published in the scientific journal Cretaceous Research, according to the INAH.

“It is an exceptional case in Mexican paleontology,” it said. “Highly favourable events had to occur millions of years ago, when Coahuila was a tropical region, for it to be conserved in the conditions it was found in.”

The name “Tlatolophus” is derived from tlahtolli, meaning “word” in the indigenous Nahuatl language, and lophus, meaning “crest” in Greek, the researchers said.

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