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Fossil reveals secrets of African dinosaurs

Fossil reveals secrets of African dinosaurs”

The mammoth plant-eater was the length of a school transport and weighed about the same as an elephant.

When it comes to looks, the long-necked dinosaur Mansourasaurus shaninae isn't all that remarkable.

The team that discovered the specimen is just getting started, Hesham Sallam, the team leader from the department of geology at Mansoura University, said. The discovery of the Mansourasaurus shahinae changes the entire course of history, a study in Nature Ecology & Evolution announced.

The fossilised remains of the dinosaur species named Mansourasaurus shahinae were unearthed by an expedition undertaken by a team at the Mansoura University in Egypt. Mansourasaurus is one of the few dinosaurs known from the last 15 million years of the age of dinosaurs on mainland Africa.

"This was the Holy Grail". The reason? The abundant vegetation that now covers the areas where they lived.

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"Mansourasaurus shahinae is a key new dinosaur species, and a critical discovery for Egyptian and African paleontology", said Dr. Eric Gorscak, a postdoctoral research scientist at The Field Museum and a contributing author on the study, in a statement.

Skeletal reconstruction of the new titanosaurian dinosaur Mansourasaurus shahinae from the Late Cretaceous of the Dakhla Oasis, Egypt. Bones shown in color are those that are preserved in the original fossil; other bones are based on those of closely related dinosaurs. Before then, all the continents we know today were locked together to form one giant land mass known as Pangaea, but it was in the process of breaking apart during the Cretaceous. The degree to which Africa's animals at this time may have been cut off from their neighboring continents and evolving on their own hasn't been clear.

Scientists say the dinosaur, which lived about 80 million years ago, is an "incredible discovery".

Some paleontologists theorized that, like modern-day Australia, Cretaceous Africa was essentially an island continent filled with unique species.

Fossils in Africa from the Late Cretaceous time period - around 100 to 66 million years ago - are rare.

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As the land divided, animal and plant species were profoundly affected, with emergent stretches of water - small and vast - forming impenetrable barriers.

This discovery provides a clue to the fact that at least a small fraction of the dinosaurs could travel between Southern Europe and North Africa during the end period of Mesozoic Era. Parts of its skull, neck, lower jaw, ribs, back vertebrae, shoulder and forelimb, back foot and osteoderms were reportedly recovered.

Rather than being a piece of a jigsaw filling in the gaps in dinosaur history, it is more like "a corner piece", said Dr Gorscak.

Egypt is known its magnificent pyramids and powerful pharaohs, but now the country is gaining fame among paleontologists, especially now that an global team has uncovered the remains of an 80-million-year-old dinosaur the size of a school bus that had bony plates embedded in its skin during its lifetime. New Egyptian sauropod reveals Late Cretaceous dinosaur dispersal between Europe and Africa. doi:10.1038/s41559-017-0455-5. "The greater part of the remaining parts were teeth and detached bones".

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