Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Our Darren Finds New Friends in the Sahara

Paleontologists claim they have unearthed a new type of pterosaur and a previously unknown sauropod dinosaur in the Sahara Desert.

The probable pterosaur was identified by a large fragment of beak from the giant flying reptile, and the probable sauropod, an herbivore, was represented by a long bone measuring more than a yard long, indicating an animal nearly 65 feet (20 meters) in length. Now extinct, both would have lived almost 100 million years ago.

The fossils were found in southeast Morocco, near the Algerian border, during a month-long expedition.

"Finding two specimens in one expedition is remarkable, especially as both might well represent completely new species," said University College Dublin graduate student Nizar Ibrahim, who led the expedition and was accompanied by Moroccan scientists Samir Zouhri and Lahssen Baidder as well as University of Portsmouth researchers Darren Naish, Robert Loveridge, David Martill and Richard Hing.

Ibrahim will undertake a detailed analysis of the sauropod bone, which he and Martill expect is a new species and genus of sauropod. He will also examine the pterosaur remains, which are particularly uncommon because their bones, optimized for flight, were light and flimsy and seldom well-preserved.

There's Darren's trip! I waited a few days for a good article to come out before posting this one. A sauropod and a pterosaur. kewl!

Looks like the critters in question are Albian in age but might be Cenomanian.

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