Dinosaurs appeared about 225 million years ago, at the end of the Triassic period, and lived for 160 million years until they became extinct 65 million years ago, at the end of the Cretaceous period, due to a dramatic climate change caused by the impact of a meteorite or by a volcanic eruption, according to different theories. Dinosaurs were vertebrate animals, herbivorous or carnivorous, biped or quadruped, of different size and weight, even when the cinema and literature made popular only the most impressive species.
The dinosaurs reign in Argentina
Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous… A journey in time along the Patagonia, where traces from the first species may still be found..
South America and especially Argentina offer the most interesting grounds for investigation. The Patagonia is one of the richest regions in the world for paleontology: the fossils of marine, land and vegetable species turn it into a true park of the Cretaceous period.
It was in that period when the biggest dinosaurs in the world were discovered. The more remarkable places are situated in Neuquén and the Valle de los Dinosaurios (Dinosaurs’ Valley), and numerous fossils are exhibited in the Trelew (Chubut) Museum. The Paleontology Museum Egidio Feruglio dates back, with the microorganisms, to the origins of life up to the appearance of the human being in the Patagonia 10,000 years ago. There are more than 1,700 fossils and 30 dinosaurs exhibited.
The Triassic: 250 to 200 million years
Among the first dinosaurs were: Eoraptor and Herrerasaurus, fast predators. Eoraptor lunensis was discovered in the Valle de la luna (San Juan). It was only 1 m long and 40 cm tall with short forelimbs and “hands” with claws. Eoraptor, in the theropod ’s family, was one of the first dinosaurs known in that period. Herrerasaurus was bigger and carnivorous. The first specimen was discovered in the Valle de la luna in 1960 and may be found in Trelew Museum.
The Jurassic: 200 to 145 million years
During the Jurassic, Laurasia and Gondwana split up and two continents were formed. To the East, the Patagonia was still united with Africa. To the West, it was bordered by the Pacific; the Andes were not formed at that moment. Piatnitzkysaurus Floresi, discovered in 1977 in the Cerro Cóndor (Chubut), is one of the rare carnivores of the Jurassic period in the region. It had powerful claws and was a fearful predator.
The Cretaceous: 145 to 65 million years
It is the last period of dinosaurs’ kingdom and the one which left the highest number of fossils, among them the specimen found in the Valle de los Dinosaurios. The Trelew Museum keeps the Epachtosaurus sciuttoi, the most complete specimen in the Titanosaurus’ family, which was discovered near Comodoro Rivadavia (Chubut).
WHAT TO READ
-The website of Trelew Paleontologic Museum Egidio Feruglio
– Our travel infos on the Southern patagonia region
– Our travel infos on the Northern patagonia region