Image: Andrew McAfee, Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Paleontologists in Patagonia have uncovered fossils of a terrifying, meat-eating dinosaur that roamed South America 85 million years ago.

Tratayenia rosalesi, was nearly 30 feet long (about twice the size of a pickup truck) and had curved, 16-inch-long talons on each hand to catch and subdue prey.

“Megaraptorid claws are the stuff of nightmares – razor-sharp meat hooks more than a foot long,” study co-author Matt Lamanna, a paleontologist at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, said in a statement. “Wolverine from the X-Men has nothing on these guys.”

Megaraptoridae, artwork by Travis R. Tischler

The new find belongs to a group of dinosaurs called Megaraptoridae, which researchers still know very little about. They were among the last large carnivores who ruled at the end of the Cretaceous Period, and they may be related to Velociraptor and Tyrannosaurus rex. 

T. rosalesi gets its name from the location where it was excavated — the Argentinian town of Tratayén — and its discoverer Diego Rosales, who uncovered the fossil with a team from the National University of Comahue. The bones include a complete set of hip vertebrae, some back vertebrae, ribs, and a piece of pelvis.

Fossilized vertebrae and right hip bone of Tratayenia rosalesi. From Porfiri et al., 2018.

The complete findings were published in the journal Cretaceous Research.