New species of dinosaur, Titanosaur, found in Tanzania

Science & Technology

Titanosaur, is the new member of the dinosaur family. Just that it is in the form of fossil remains and is expected to have existed during the Cretaceous Period (70-100 million years ago). The new species of dinosaur,Titanosaurian dinosaur, has been identified by paleontologists after recovering its fossil remains from Cretaceous Period rocks in the Songwe region of the Great Rift Valley in southwestern Tanzania.

The gigantic, long-necked Titanosaur’s skeletons have been found worldwide but are best known from South America. Fossils in this group are rare in Africa. The new dinosaur is called Shingopana songwensis, derived from the Swahili term “shingopana” for “wide neck”.

This is how the Titanosaur must have looked like

A part of the Shingopana skeleton was excavated in 2002 by scientists affiliated with the Rukwa Rift Basin Project, an international effort led by Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine researchers Patrick O’Connor and Nancy Stevens. Additional portions of the skeleton including neck vertebrae, ribs, a humerus and part of the lower jaw were recovered later.

The discovery suggests the fauna of northern and southern Africa was very different in the Cretaceous Period and at that time, southern Africa dinosaurs were more closely related to those in South America and were more widespread than expected.

Dinosaur fun facts

Shingopana roamed the Cretaceous landscape alongside Rukwatitan bisepultus, another titanosaur the team described and named in 2014. During the tectonically active Cretaceous Period, southern Africa lost Madagascar and Antarctica as they split off to the east and south, followed by the gradual northward “unzipping” of South America.

Northern Africa maintained a land connection with South America, but southern Africa slowly became more isolated until the continents completely separated 95-105 million years ago. Other factors such as terrain and climate may have further isolated southern Africa. The bones of Shingopana, he found, were damaged by the borings of ancient insects shortly after death.

Scientists says that the presence of bone-borings provides an opportunity akin to crime scene investigation to study the skeleton and reconstruct the timing of death and burial, and offers rare evidence of ancient insects and complex food webs during the age of the dinosaurs.

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