Scientists discover new species of bus-sized dinosaur in Egypt
Cairo : Scientists have discovered a new species of dinosaur - a school bus-sized, long-necked plant-eater with bony plates embedded in its skin - in the Sahara desert of Egypt.
The fossilised remains of the new species, named Mansourasaurus Shahinae, were unearthed by an expedition undertaken by an initiative of the the Mansoura University Vertebrate Paleontology (MUVP) in Egypt.
The findings, published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, reveal ancient links between Africa and Europe.
"The discovery and extraction of Mansourasaurus was such an amazing experience for the MUVP team. It was thrilling for my students to uncover bone after bone, as each new element we recovered helped to reveal who this giant dinosaur was," said lead researcher Hesham Sallam.
"Mansourasaurus Shahinae is a key new dinosaur species, and a critical discovery for Egyptian and African paleontology," said Eric Gorscak, a postdoctoral research scientist at The Field Museum in Chicago, US, and a contributing author to the study.
By analysing features of its bones, Sallam and his team determined that Mansourasaurus is more closely related to dinosaurs from Europe and Asia than it is to those found farther south in Africa or in South America.
This, in turn, shows that at least some dinosaurs could move between Africa and Europe near the end of these animals' reign.
"Africa's last dinosaurs weren't completely isolated, contrary to what some have proposed in the past," said Gorscak, who began work on the project as a doctoral student at Ohio University in the US.
"There were still connections to Europe," Gorscak added.
Mansourasaurus belongs to the Titanosauria, a group of sauropods (long-necked plant-eating dinosaurs) that were common throughout much of the world during the Cretaceous period, about 145 to 66 million years ago.
Titanosaurs are famous for including the largest land animals known to science such as Argentinosaurus, Dreadnoughtus and Patagotitan.
Mansourasaurus, however, was moderate-sized for a titanosaur, roughly the weight of an African bull elephant.
Its skeleton is important in being the most complete dinosaur specimen so far discovered from the end of the Cretaceous in Africa, preserving parts of the skull, the lower jaw, neck and back vertebrae, ribs, most of the shoulder and forelimb, part of the hind foot and pieces of dermal plates, the study said.