Thursday, 18 Dec, 2008 Science

New Traces of Giant Dinosaurs Discovered in Sahara


Pterosaur bonesPaleontologists continue studying the depth of unrecorded times when dinosaurs dominated in animal world. This year scientists managed to find the fossils of pterosaur and sauropod in the Sahara Desert.

The remains that could probably belong to a new species of pterosaur included a large segment of a beak, but the presumed sauropod could be identified by a 3 feet bone, which means that the animal itself was about 65 feet long. It's believed that these giant reptiles inhabited earth about 100 million years ago. The excavations took place in south-eastern part of Morocco and lasted about a month.

Nizar Ibrahim, a graduate student from University College Dublin, led the whole expedition supported by researchers from University of Portsmouth and Moroccan scientists. As he said, the discovery of two different specimens at a time was a real success as both could represent new species of dinosaurs.

The bone of giant sauropod will be subjected to a close study as it might reveal features of a new sauropod species. The remains of pterosaur require a particularly careful analysis as their bones adjusted to flying are quite fragile and difficult to preserve.

"Most pterosaur discoveries are just fragments of teeth and bones so it was thrilling to find a large part of a beak, and this was enough to tell us we probably have a new species," explained Ibrahim.

The group of researchers went through many trials driving about 5,000 miles across the Atlas Mountains, but natural disasters such as floods and sandstorms only strengthened their desire to go till the end. Having found the bone of giant sauropod, the team was in need of plaster and water to protect the precious remains. As it turned out, they had to cross flooded rivers in order to get to the closest town.

Transportation of the fossils was especially difficult as members of the team manhandled them in plaster cover down the mountain with the help of a wooden barrow. It took researchers five days to retrieve sauropod bone and bring it down the mountains, noted Ibrahim.

On the road back the car loaded with heavy bones had to make its way through sand dunes. Besides the team found itself in the middle of a snowstorm, but everyone agreed that the treasure was worth it, said Martill, a researcher from University of Portsmouth.

According to information provided by LiveScience, the team also discovered some dinosaur footprints, samples of their teeth, specimens of new fish species and giant crocodiles.

Ibrahim was amazed by the fact that the Sahara Desert was once a green paradise inhabited by giant dinosaurs and other reptiles. Such unexpected findings are thrilling even for experienced paleontologists investigating prehistoric times.

Zouhri, a geologist from the University Hassan II in Casablanca, said that after a thorough analysis the fossils will be displayed in Morocco.

Posted by sharaeff

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