New South African dinosaur discovered


This video from the USA is called Types of Dinosaurs : Sauropod Dinosaur Facts.

From Associated Press today:

Scientists: New dinosaur species found in SAfrica

By CELEAN JACOBSON

JOHANNESBURG — A newly discovered dinosaur species that roamed the Earth about 200 million years ago may help explain how the creatures evolved into the largest animals on land, scientists in South Africa said Wednesday.

The Aardonyx celestae was a small-headed herbivore with huge barrel of a chest, and the scientists said it could prove to be a missing evolutionary link.

“This is definitely without a shadow of a doubt a brand new type of dinosaur — one that no one has seen before and one that has a very significant position in the family tree of dinosaurs,” said Australian paleontologist Adam Yates.

Yates, who is based at the University of the Witwatersrand’s Bernard Price Institute for Paleontological Research, led the research with a number of other local and international scientists.

Their findings were published Wednesday in the Proceedings of The Royal Society B, a London-based peer-reviewed journal.

The Aardonyx celestae walked on its hind legs but could drop to all fours and stood nearly 6 feet (about 1.7 meters) high at the hip, the scientists said. It was about 10 years old when it died and weighed about 1,100 pounds (500 kilograms). Its death may have been caused by drought.

Yates says the Aardonyx celestae has many characteristic of the plant-eating herbivores that walked on two legs as well as their descendants. Those sauropods, known more popularly as brontosaurs, grew to massive sizes and went about on all fours.

The newly discovered species shows an intermediary stage in the evolution of these creatures, Yates said.

“Aardonyx gives us a glimpse into what the first steps toward becoming a sauropod involved,” he said.

The discovery of the new species was made by postgraduate student Marc Blackbeard, who was excavating two sites about five years ago.

Yates believes that the scientists may have stumbled onto a “paleontological oasis” in central South Africa that may yield further previously unknown dinosaur species.

Already they are working on the bones of two other specimens found at the site and have also unearthed some giant teeth believed to belong to a mysterious carnivorous dinosaur.

Images of the New Sauropodomorph: here.

See also here. And here.

How much energy does it take a sauropod to hold its neck up for half an hour? Here.

The Top 8 Dinosaur Discoveries of 2009: here.

3 thoughts on “New South African dinosaur discovered

  1. Utah’s dino hotbed yields 4 skulls of new sauropod

    By Sara Israelsen-Hartley

    Deseret News
    Published: Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2010 10:32 p.m. MST

    PROVO — Utah’s newest dinosaur is getting a lot of attention for leaving behind what few of its relatives did — its skull.

    A team of paleontologists hit the post-Jurassic jackpot with the discovery of four rare skulls within Dinosaur National Monument — so rare that park paleontologist Dan Chure said they have the only complete Cretaceous sauropod skull in the Western Hemisphere.

    “When we started digging there … I don’t think anyone believed we’d find such spectacular skull material,” Chure said. “You always hope you’re going to find something like this, but the reality is that so few of them have good skull material preserved that you could go your entire scientific career and never find anything like this.”

    The new 105 million-year-old plant-eating dinosaur has been named Abydosaurus mcintoshi, and is part of the sauropod family, which also claims the familiar brachiosaurus.

    Finding sauropod skulls is such a big deal, says BYU geology professor and paleontologist Brooks Britt, because only eight of the 120 known varieties of sauropods have a complete skeletal reconstruction that includes a skull.

    Most skulls, which were composed of thin, fragile bones and soft tissue, quickly decomposed after the dino died.

    So it’s amazing to find one skull, let alone several, within a designated dinosaur monument, Britt said.

    “(They were found) within a quarter of a mile from the visitors center,” he said. “(Dinosaur National Monument) is one of the most famous dinosaur localities in the world and has been producing dinosaurs for over 100 years. So here we are, over 100 years later, finding new dinosaurs in the Mecca for dinosaur paleontology.”

    The skulls were found in the Cedar Mountain Formation, not previously known for its fossil deposits, Chure said.

    However, in the mid-1980s, several large bones were collected because they were exposed and being damaged by erosion. Researchers noticed additional bones underneath but had to finish other projects before they could dig there.

    The first complete skull was discovered there in the late 1990s, and as Britt and several BYU students began digging their way through an excavated 6,000-pound block of stone in 2004, they unearthed three more skulls, including one fully intact.

    However, nothing in paleontology happens overnight, Britt quipped, which explains why it took several years to get the bones out of the rocks and properly identified.

    They will be returning this summer to excavate additional Abydosaurus bones.

    Their research will be published in the journal Naturwissenshaften, The Science of Nature, accessible on Wednesday at http://www.springerlink.com/content/100479/.

    Other co-authors include University of Michigan researchers John Whitlock and Jeffrey Wilson.

    “I just can’t convey how exciting it is to work with such well-preserved and rare materials,” Britt said. “To hold these in your hands is just amazing.”

    The Abydosaurus mcintoshi, at 105 million years old, is clearly related to its brachiosaurus ancestors of 150 million years ago, but it has some interesting differences, Britt explains.

    Older sauropods’ teeth resembled C or D-batteries — broad, peg-shaped chompers.

    However, the Abydosaurus’ teeth look more like short AAA-batteries, and because the teeth are smaller, its mouth has more teeth than its predecessors.

    “It’s just a strange thing about sauropods,” Britt said, “none could chew their foods, they just bit it off and swallowed it. The point is, they’ve made themselves more efficient at biting.”

    The additional teeth also meant more enamel, which could keep the teeth from wearing out as quickly.

    e-mail: sisraelsen@desnews.com

    http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700011523/Utahs-dino-hotbed-yields-4-skulls-of-new-sauropod.html

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  2. Pingback: How many dinosaurs lived? | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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