Dinosaur the size of a school bus had a "heart-shaped tail"



With perhaps no coincidence so today is Valentine's Day, a new dinosaur has been found with a "heart-shaped tail".

Known as Mnyamawamtuka moyowamkia ("Mtuka Beast" and "Tail Heart" in Swahili), titanosaur was discovered on the cliffs of Tanzania. The researchers were able to find a significant amount of fossilized bones and teeth, including a heart-shaped caudal vertebra, which aroused curiosity.

"This new dinosaur provides us with important information about African wildlife in a period of changing evolution," said Judy Skog, program director at the Earth Science Division of the National Science Foundation, who funded the research, a statement. "This discovery provides insight into Cretaceous paleogeography and also contains current information on an animal with heart-shaped tail bones during this Valentine's Week."

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The fossils of the ancient beast were first discovered in 2004 and it took several seasons for a complete extraction (2008, to be precise) of bones from the Cretaceous period. Since we know little about titanosaurs, which would have weighed up to 76 tons, the results could prove extremely valuable, said Dr. Eric Gorscak, lead author of the 39; study.

"Although titanosaurs have become one of the most successful dinosaur groups before the infamous mass extinction of dinosaurs, their initial evolutionary history remains obscure, and Mnyamawamtuka helps to tell these early beginnings. especially for their African side of history, "said Gorscak in the statement.

"The wealth of information from the skeleton indicates that it was distantly related to other known African titanosaurs, with the exception of some interesting similarities with another dinosaur, Malawisaurus, located just off the coast. On the other side of the border between Tanzania and Malawi, "added Gorscak.

It's likely that the titanosaur was "pretty young, like a teenager maybe," when he died, Gorscake said in an interview with LiveScience. There are no teeth marks, suggesting that it has not been eaten, but it is probably dead from a quick death, as evidenced by the large number of Bones preserved.

Illustration illustrating Mnyamawamtuka moyowamkia's "Heart Tail" and a selection of bones recovered from his skeleton. (Credit: Mark Witton)

Illustration illustrating Mnyamawamtuka moyowamkia's "Heart Tail" and a selection of bones recovered from his skeleton. (Credit: Mark Witton)

"The new specimen retains teeth, elements from all regions of the post-cranial axial skeleton, parts of both appendicular belts and parts of both limbs including a complete metatarsal", summarizes the abstract of the study. The research was published in the scientific journal PLOS One.

The Titanosaurs are best known from South America, but species recently discovered in Tanzania, as well as in other parts of Africa, show that the dino was more diverse than it was. thought before.

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"The discovery of dinosaurs like Mnyamawamtuka and others that we have discovered recently amounts to making the connection between dots in four dimensions," said Dr. Patrick O. Connor, professor of anatomy at the University of Ottawa. University of Ohio, in a statement.

"Each new discovery adds a little more detail to the description of ecosystems on the African continent during the Cretaceous, which allows us to assemble a more global vision of the biotic changes of the past," O Connor said.

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