The Gualicho dinosaur was a Neovenatoridae from the family of Allosaurids. These middle-sized dinosaurs were an important element in the history of attribution and evolution of theropods. They were especially known for their claw-like hands which intrigued researchers. The most exceptional detail of these arms was the fact that the Gualicho shinyae went through the evolution of limb reduction, essentially compromising their arm size to evolve better, sharper bites. This was somewhat a bargain on the genus' behalf. While Gualicho shinyae is the only species in the genus, the first half of their name is derived from the 'Gualicho', a demon of the local folklore. Deemed to be a demon by locals, the character appears in Mapuche mythology and as one might expect, they were not honored but despised. The Gualicho demon was often compared to Satan, attributed as the cause of illness or calamities. The second name was given in honor of Shinya, the animal's discoverer. The specimen name and description was given by Sebastián Apesteguía, Nathan D. Smith, Rubén Juárez Valieri and Peter J. Makovicky in 2016. The Gualicho shinyae has more to offer than just mythological folklores. Its skeleton shows several similarities to the African theropod Deltadromeus agilis, while some also expressed the possibility of it being related to the T-Rex.
Gualicho is pronounced as 'Gu-ah-li-cho.'
According to discovered fossils, its description was given as a theropod belonging to the genus of Neovenatoridae (meaning 'new hunter') dinosaurs.
The Gualicho shinyae existed during the later years of the Mesozoic Era of the late cretaceous.
The Gualicho shinyae became extinct at the end of the late cretaceous period.
The skeleton of the Gualicho shinyae was discovered in Patagonia, Argentina (present-day Chile) in South America.
Patagonia, Argentina was a site which was composed of glacial ports and temperate rainforests of Argentina. The region was cool and received ample rainfall.
These dinosaurs lived in Patagonia, Argentina, which was a location rich with dinosaur populations over different geological ages. Even the world-famous T-Rex is known to have lived there. There is a great possibility that these two dinosaurs shared similar habitats.
On average, medium to large-sized theropods lived for around 20 to 50 years. As the Gualicho shinyae was one of them, it would have had a similar lifespan.
This theropod dinosaur from the late cretaceous was oviparous, just like other dinosaurs. However, there are no records that explain the group activities of these dinosaurs during the mating season. Nonetheless, the nesting activities were similar to that of many other dinosaurs, such as nesting in shallow pits in the ground.
According to the description that Nathan Smith provided, the Gualicho was a medium-sized dinosaur with short legs and even shorter arms. It was two-fingered with arms more like reduced limbs or hands. Its body shape resembled that of T-Rex and its skeleton was mostly composed of elements of its fore and hind limbs. The holotype, MPCN PV 0001, consists of a partial skeleton lacking the skull.
The dinosaur's skeleton consisted of quite a number of bone fragments that were procured during excavation. This included limbs and leg vertebrae, three tail vertebrae, four of the back, three mid ribs, three toe bones of the right foot. Other bone fragments included ribs, left shoulder, right arm, pubic bones, right thigh bone, calf bone, and three toes.
Like most of the dinosaurs, the Gualicho shinyae probably communicated with hoots, calls, and other verbal and non-verbal signals. Unlike many other present day animal species, this species showed signs of inter-species communication.
The Gualicho shinaye was as big as 25 ft (7.6 m). Generally, the size of the Tyrannosaurus Rex was 40 ft (12.2 m). Thus the size of the Gualicho shinyae was almost two times smaller than the Tyrannosaurus Rex.
This theropod from Patagonia, Argentina was bipedal, meaning it had a greater speed than the average quadrupedal dinosaur. Its speed range would likely have been greater than sauropods and less than velociraptors.
The Gualicho shinyae was on the larger side when it was compared with members of its own clade. However, it was a moderate-sized dinosaur if viewed through the lens of the average dinosaur. The Tyrannosaurus Rex was as heavy as 11,023.1 - 15,432.4 lb (5,000-7,000 kg), whereas the Gualicho shinyae was only as heavy as 992 lb (450 kg). This makes it almost 15 times lighter than the T-Rex!
The male of the species is casually known as a 'buck' while the female of the species is known as a 'cow.' Otherwise, they were known by the same name- Gualicho.
A baby Gualicho shinyae is known as a hatchling, just like its cousin reptiles. A cute way to address them might be 'baby Gualicho.'
The Gualicho shinyae was a theropod dinosaur. Thus it was known to hunt for food. After thorough research was conducted on the specimen, it became popularly known as a 'digger'. It turns out that its spade-like claws were an evolutionary feature that revealed the food habits of this theropod from Patagonia, Argentina.
Being a theropod dinosaur, it would not be surprising if the Gualicho shinyae was aggressive. However, not much is truly known about its relationships with other animals.
The evolution of its teeth was quite a significant, whole body evolution that allowed the Gualicho to develop the most powerful bite force, even if it came at the cost of its arms. This phenomenon is known as convergent evolution, an evolutionary trait divided across geological eras among individual animals.
Described as a distant relative of the T-Rex, the Gualicho shinyae also drew similarities with the Aoniraptor, a megaraptaron. This was due to the similar structures of their postcranial vertebrae
This theropod dinosaur from the late cretaceous was described as a two-fingered dinosaur by Nathan. These fingers, however, were not actually fingers but sharp claws that were supposedly meant for slashing their prey, along with their sharp teeth to enhance their bite.
The Gualicho shinyae was named by Patagonia's indigenous people after an evil spirit they feared. The evil spirit was believed to bring misfortune.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully curated lots of interesting family-friendly dinosaur facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other creatures by exploring our Metriorhynchus interesting facts or Yinlong facts for kids pages.
You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Gualicho coloring pages.
Main image by Nobu Tamura
Second image by Sebastián Apesteguía, Nathan D. Smith, Rubén Juárez Valieri, Peter J. Makovicky