New titanosaur dinosaur discovered in Tanzania | Paleontology



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Paleontologists in Tanzania have found fossil fragments of a new giant dinosaur species that spanned the Earth about 100 million years ago (Cretaceous period).

Mnyamawamtuka moyowamkia in its environment. Image credit: Mark Witton.

Mnyamawamtuka moyowamkia in its environment. Image credit: Mark Witton.

The new dinosaur, named Mnyamawamtuka moyowamkia, is part of Titanosauria, a diverse group of sauropod dinosaurs that includes species ranging from the largest known terrestrial vertebrates to "dwarves" as small as elephants.

"Although titanosaurs have become one of the most successful dinosaur groups before the infamous mass extinction that has covered the dinosaur era, their initial evolutionary history remains obscure and Mnyamawamtuka moyowamkia helps tell those early days, especially for their African side of the story, "said team leader Eric Gorscak, a researcher at Field Museum of Natural History and Midwestern University.

The partial skeleton of Mnyamawamtuka moyowamkia – including the teeth, elements from all regions of the post-cranial skeleton and portions of both limbs – were recovered from Cretaceous age rocks of the Galula Formation in the south-west of the Tanzania.

"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, just across the border between Tanzania and Malawi, "said Dr. Gorscak.

Mnyamawamtuka moyowamkia. Image Credit: Mark Witton / E. Gorscak & P.M. O'Connor, doi: 10.1371 / journal.pone.0211412.

Mnyamawamtuka moyowamkia. Image Credit: Mark Witton / E. Gorscak & P.M. O'Connor, doi: 10.1371 / journal.pone.0211412.

The Titanosaurs are best known for their Cretaceous rocks in South America, but Dr. Gorscak and his colleagues have also been interested in new species found in Tanzania, Egypt, and other parts of the African continent. which reveal a more complex picture of the evolution of dinosaurs on the planet. .

"The discovery of dinosaurs as Mnyamawamtuka moyowamkia and others we've discovered recently are like making a four-dimensional link, "said Professor Patrick O'Connor of Ohio University.

"Each new discovery adds a little more detail to the image of the ecosystems of continental Africa during the Cretaceous, which allows us to have a more global vision of the biotic changes of the past."

"This new dinosaur provides us with important information about African wildlife in a period of evolutionary change," said Judy Skog, Program Director at NSF's Earth Sciences Division, who funded the research.

"The discovery offers insight into the paleogeography of the Cretaceous. It also contains timely information on an animal with heart-shaped tail bones during this Valentine's Day week. "

The discovery is reported in a newspaper article PLoS ONE.

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E. Gorscak & P.M. O. Connor. 2019. New sauropod dinosaur African titanosaur from Middle Cretaceous galula (Mtuka limb) formation, Rukwa Rift Basin, southwestern Tanzania. PLoS ONE 14 (2): e0211412; doi: 10.1371 / journal.pone.0211412

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