SCIENCE
10/08/2014 03:00 pm ET Updated Oct 08, 2014

Feisty Little Dinosaur Discovered In Venezuela

Maurílio Oliveira via Max Langer

They're calling him the "Thief of Tachira," but this feisty little dinosaur just discovered in Venezuela doesn't sound like the sort that would have stolen many hearts.

In fact, Tachiraptor admirabilis doesn't sound friendly at all.

"Tachiraptor probably preyed upon any smaller animal he could catch," Max Langer, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of São Paulo in Brazil and co-author of a paper describing the dinosaur, told Discovery News.

An international team of researchers unearthed two leg bone fossils of the new species in the Andes Mountains near Venezuela's western border, LiveScience reported.

The fossils indicate the first carnivorous dinosaur discovered in the country was about 4.9 to 6.5 feet long from nose to tail. The creature lived about 201 million years ago, during the early Jurassic period, on the ancient supercontinent Pangaea.

"Pangaea was in the process of breaking up back then," Langer told Live Science. "There was a lot of volcanic activity around, and in the valley, [there was] a meandering river, along which were patches of forest where this dinosaur lived."

The researchers said Tachiraptor was likely an ancestor of bigger dinosaurs like T. rex that lived in the later Jurassic. Their discovery may shed new light on the evolution of dinosaurs following the End-Triassic mass extinction that occurred a million years before Tachiraptor lived.

The paper describing the discovery was published Oct. 8 in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

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