Thursday, 21 June, 2018

Fossil of New Dinosaur Species Found in Egypt's Desert

An artist impression of the newly discovered Egyptian dinosaur An artist impression of the newly discovered Egyptian dinosaur. Andrew McAfee Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Frank Williams | 30 January, 2018, 16:30

Paleontological researchers at Ohio University partnered with professors and students from the Mansoura University Vertebrate Paleontology Initiative in Mansoura, Egypt, in authoring the paper published Monday naming the new species Mansourasaurus shahinae.

The African dinosaur fossils are hard to find, largely because a lot of the area is covered in vegetation rather than with exposed rock that had led to bigger finds elsewhere.

Although it was very large, the newly discovered dinosaur could not be compared with other 30-meter titanosaurs.

The school bus-sized dinosaur is believed to have walked the earth about 80 million years ago, a discovery that offers a glimpse into the last chapter of the age of dinosaurs in Africa.

Researchers found a dinosaur fossil in an oasis in the western desert of Egypt. It had a long neck - a common feature among titanosaurs, who were all herbivores - and bony plates embedded in its skin.

Examples include Argentinosaurus, Dreadnoughtus, and the mind-bogglingly massive Patagotitan mayorum, which weighed roughly 68,950kg.

This fossil will help to better understand the evolution of the dinosaurs at a time when Pangea, this unique supercontinent that connected all the land on the planet, began to fragment.

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Despite being such a large animal, Mansourasaurus's skeleton is the most complete dinosaur specimen discovered from the end of the Cretaceous in Africa, so far.

The scientists recovered parts of its skull, lower jaw, neck and back vertebrae, ribs, shoulder and forelimb, back foot and osteoderms.

"This, in turn, shows that at least some dinosaurs could move between Africa and Europe near the end of these animals' reign". Mansourasaurus helps us address longstanding questions about Africa's fossil record and paleobiology - what animals were living there, and to what other species were these animals most closely related?

Eric Gorscak, a postdoctoral research scientist at The Field Museum and a contributing author on the study, said he was shocked by the relative completeness of the skeleton. This had a profound effect on the dinos, who were suddenly split apart into separate populations, each charting a new evolutionary course.

The fossils of this dinosaur were obtained at central Egypt near the Dakhla Oasis. Mansourasaurus is now considered a "key new dinosaur species" as it's filling in the gaps in Africa's dino history. Africa's dinosaurs weren't completely cut off and isolated, moving across pathways that existed between the two continents.

The researchers determined Mansourasaurus was more closely related to European and Asian titanosaurs than to those from elsewhere in Africa and other Southern Hemisphere land masses including South America formerly joined in a super-continent called Gondwana. "But most importantly, these global discoveries are great opportunities to build worldwide collaborations, involve students from other countries [co-authors Ms Iman El-Dawoudi, Ms Sanaa El-Sayed, Mrs Sara Saber and myself], and promote science".

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