Thanos simonattoi: A Newly Discovered Theropod in Brazil Was Named After Marvel's SuperVillain
A newly discovered dinosaur in Brazil has been named after the Marvel supervillain Thanos, thus securing another jewel in the Mad Titan's gauntlet.
In an article published in Historical Biology earlier in November 2018, paleontologists Rafael Delcourt and Fabiano Vidoi Iori outline their discovery of a new abelisaurid theropod in the Sao Jose do Rio Preto formation in Brazil. The dinosaur has been dubbed Thanos simonattoi, and while that could certainly be a coincidence, Iori confirmed to SYFY WIRE that it's not. Thanos does indeed have a dinosaur named after him now.
In the Historial Biology article, Delcourt and Iori explain the etymology as being derived both from the Greek word thanato, for death, and from the Jim Starlin character made famous worldwide in Avengers: Infinity War earlier in 2018. The dinosaur was also named for Sergio Simonatto, who discovered this particular specimen.
Thanos is a genus of carnivorous brachyrostran abelisaurid dinosaur that lived in Brazil during the Santonian stage of the late Cretaceous Period. It contains a single species, Thanos simonattoi.
The holotype specimen, MPMA 08–0016/95, was found in the São José do Rio Preto Formation, part of the Bauru Group and dating from the Santonian; in 2014 it had been dated to the Maastrichtian. It consists of an almost complete axis fused with an axial intercentrum. It is missing several processes at the front, rear and sides. The specimen is currently housed at the Museu de Paleontologia de Monte Alto, Brazil.
The length of Thanos has been estimated at 5.5–6.5 metres (18–21 ft).
Despite the incompleteness of the material, a number of diagnostic features are present; a well-developed keel becoming wider and deeper posteriorly on the ventral surface; two lateral small foramina separated by a relatively wide wall on each lateral surface of the centrum; and well-developed and deep prezygapophyseal spinodiapophyseal fossae. In view of these features, Thanos may have been more derived than other abelisaurids at the time.
In their phylogenetic analysis, Delcourt and Iori (2018) recovered Thanos in a large polytomy with other brachyrostrans within the Abelisauridae.
Thanos shared only two synapomorphies with the Brachyrostra. The front articular facet of the axis is more than twice as high as the rear articular facet. The rear facet is inclined to the front under an angle of less than 75°.
Thanos shared its environment with an undescribed larger theropod believed to be a megaraptoran of which a vertebra, specimen MPMA 08–0003/94, has been found at Ibirá. This would imply that Thanos was not the apex predator of its habitat.
So, now Thanos joins the ranks of great men throughout history who've had legendary prehistoric creatures named after them. What more could a made space god ask for?