New dinosaur discovered beneath the Sahara

Life reconstruction of the new titanosaurian dinosaur Mansourasaurus shahinae on a coastline in what is now the Western Desert of Egypt approximately 80 million years ago. Credit: Andrew McAfee, Carnegie Museum of Natural History

The final days of the dinosaurs in Africa has been a thriller for scientists, the place the fossil document masking the Late Cretaceous interval – the interval as much as 66 million years in the past, when the extinction occasion occurred – may be very patchy.

However now a brand new fossil found by scientists buried beneath the Sahara desert in Egypt helps scientists fill within the blanks.

The large dinosaur has been referred to as Mansourasaurus shahinae, and was the size of a bus.

It was long-necked, ate vegetation and had bony plates embedded in its pores and skin, in response to the analysis group on the College of Ohio.

Mansourasaurus belongs to a bunch of sauropods, dinosaurs with lengthy necks that ate vegetation, referred to as Titanosauria, which had been widespread all through the Cretaceous interval.

Titanosaurs embody the biggest land animals identified to science, though Mansourasaurus is not among the many largest, being roughly the burden of an African bull elephant.

Its skeleton is probably the most full dinosaur specimen ever found from that interval and site.

Dr Matt Lamanna from the Carnegie Museum of Pure Historical past, a examine coauthor and dinosaur palaeontologist, mentioned: “Once I first noticed pics of the fossils, my jaw hit the ground.

“This was the Holy Grail – a well-preserved dinosaur from the top of the Age of Dinosaurs in Africa – that we palaeontologists had been looking for for a protracted, very long time.”

The left dentary, or lower jaw bone, of the new titanosaurian dinosaur Mansourasaurus shahinae as it was found in rock of the Upper Cretaceous-aged (~80 million-year-old) Quseir Formation of the Dakhla Oasis, Egypt. Credit: Hesham Sallam, Mansoura University

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The decrease jaw bone of the brand new dinosaur because it was present in rock in Egypt. Pic: Hesham Sallam, Mansoura College

Its fossilised stays had been excavated by the Mansoura College Vertebrate Palaeontology (MUVP) initiative, a mission led by Dr Hesham Sallam of the Division of Geology at Mansoura College in Egypt.

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Dr Sallam is the lead creator of the paper revealed at present within the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution that names the brand new species, honouring each Mansoura College and Ms Mona Shahin for her integral function in growing the MUVP.

Based on Dr Sallam: “The invention and extraction of Mansourasaurus was such an incredible expertise for the MUVP group. It was thrilling for my college students to uncover bone after bone, as every new component we recovered helped to disclose who this big dinosaur was.”

“Mansourasaurus shahinae is a key new dinosaur species, and a essential discovery for Egyptian and African palaeontology,” mentioned Dr Eric Gorscak, a postdoctoral analysis scientist at The Discipline Museum and a contributing creator on the examine.

Dr Gorscak, who started work on the mission as a doctoral pupil at Ohio College the place his analysis centered on African dinosaurs, mentioned: “Africa stays an enormous query mark by way of land-dwelling animals on the finish of the Age of Dinosaurs.

“Mansourasaurus helps us handle longstanding questions on Africa’s fossil document and palaeobiolog – what animals had been dwelling there, and to what different species had been these animals most intently associated?”

The researcher added that since so little is understood about African dinosaurs, “it is like discovering an edge piece that you just use to assist work out what the image is, you can construct from. Perhaps even a nook piece.”

Dr Sallam added: “What’s thrilling is that our group is simply getting began. Now that we now have a bunch of well-trained vertebrate palaeontologists right here in Egypt, with quick access to vital fossil websites, we anticipate the tempo of discovery to speed up within the years to come back.”

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