New Species of Titanosaur Unearthed in Egypt: Mansourasaurus shahinae

Aaron Brown
February 1, 2018

Africa presents particular difficulties for palaeontologists because much of the land where fossils might be found is covered in thick foliage and vegetation, as opposed to exposed rock in the case of the Rocky Mountain region in the U.S. and the Gobi Desert, for example, both of which have yielded large hauls over the years.

The fossilized remains of Mansourasaurus date back to 80 million years ago.

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

The Mansourasaurus had a long neck, ate plants and had bony plates in its skin.

The bones were discovered in the Sahara Desert in Egypt, by a dig team from Mansoura University.

Paleontological researchers at Ohio University partnered with professors and students from the Mansoura University Vertebrate Paleontology Initiative in Mansoura, Egypt, in authoring the paper published Monday naming the new species Mansourasaurus shahinae. "A well-preserved dinosaur from the end of the Age of Dinosaurs in Africa that we palaeontologists had been searching for for a long, long time", Study co-researcher Dr Matt Lamanna of Carnegie Museum of Natural History, adding that his jaw "hit the floor" after seeing the photos of the fossils. Paleontologists were excited to make the discovery, likening it to a paleontological Holy Grail.

The researchers say physical features of the Mansourasaurus are close to those of European dinosaurs, and their findings run counter to hypotheses that dinosaurs on the African continent were completely isolated at the time.

Scientists are stoked with their discovery of a giant dinosaur fossil in Egypt.

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Mansourasaurus, being from this period, helps answer questions about Africa's fossil record and paleobiology, Eric Gorscak, a postdoctoral research scientist at The Field Museum and a contributing author on the study, said. "Mansourasaurus helps us address long standing questions about Africa's fossil record and palaeobiology - what animals were living there, and to what other species were these animals most closely related?"

When dinosaurs first evolved in the Triassic, and even for quite some time after that into the Jurassic, most of the landmass on Earth was joined together in the supercontinent Pangea. Historically, it hasn't been clear how well-connected Africa was to other Southern Hemisphere landmasses and Europe during this time-to what degree Africa's animals may have been cut off from their neighbors and evolving on their own separate tracks.

"This, in turn, shows that at least some dinosaurs could move between Africa and Europe near the end of these animals' reign".

"It demonstrates Africa wasn't this unusual lost universe of dinosaurs that lived no place else", said Dr Lamanna. The colored bones are those that are preserved in the original fossil; other bones are based on those of closely related dinosaurs.

M. shahinae belongs to Titanosauria, a group of enormous sauropods - including Argentinosaurus, Dreadnoughtus andPatagotitan - that lived around the world during the Cretaceous period, the researchers said. That's big, but certainly not the biggest of the titanosaurs.

Its skeleton is essential in being the most entire dinosaur example so far found from the finish of the Cretaceous in Africa.

Fossil fragments included parts of the mammoth beast's skull, lower jaw, neck and back verterbrae, ribs, shoulders and more.

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