Saturday, February 24, 2018




Rare dinosaur discovery in Egypt may signal more finds

Feb. 7, 2018 at 12:02 a.m.

In this Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018 photo, a bird sits on a lamp post in front of a banner that honors a team from Mansoura university for their discovery of a Cretaceous period dinosaur, in Mansoura, Egypt. Researchers from the university in the country's Nile Delta discovered a new species of long-necked herbivore, in the western desert of Egypt, which is around the size of a city bus and could be just the tip of the iceberg of other finds. Experts say the discovery is a landmark one that could shed light on a particularly obscure period of history for the African continent. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

MANSOURA, Egypt (AP) — A skeleton has been unearthed in Egypt's Western Desert, whose ancient sands have long helped preserve remains, but unlike most finds this one isn't a mummy — it's a dinosaur.

Researchers from Mansoura University in the country's Nile Delta discovered the new species of long-necked herbivore, which is around the size of a city bus, and it could be just the tip of the sand dune for other desert dinosaur discoveries.

"As in any ecosystem, if we went to the jungle we'll find a lion and a giraffe. So we found the giraffe, where's the lion?" said Hesham Sallam, leader of the excavation team and head of the university's Center for Vertebrate Paleontology.

Sallam, along with four Egyptian and five American researchers, authored an article in the journal "Nature Ecology & Evolution" published Jan. 29 announcing the discovery.

Experts say the find is a landmark one that could shed light on a particularly obscure period of history for the African continent, roughly the 30 million years before dinosaurs went extinct, between 70 and 80 million years ago.

Named "Mansourasaurus Shahinae" after the team's university and for one of the paleontology department's founders, the find is the only dinosaur from that period to have been discovered in Africa, and it may even be an undiscovered genus.

In the article the authors say the team's findings "counter hypotheses that dinosaur faunas of the African mainland were completely isolated" during the late Mesozoic period. That is, previous theories were that Africa's dinosaurs during that time existed as if on an island and developed independently from their northern cousins.

But Mansourasaurus' fossilized skeletal remains suggest an anatomy not very different from those discovered in Europe from the same period, an indication that a land connection between Africa and its northern neighbor may have existed.

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