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Angola yields sauropod fossils
Thu, 17 Mar 2011 15:48:32 GMT
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Researcher Octavio Mateus is analyzing part of a fossilized dinosaur.
Scientists in Angola have discovered remains of one of the largest dinosaur species, which they believe might have been torn apart by ancient sharks.

According to a study published in the Annals of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, the fossil belongs to a long-necked, plant-eating sauropod with unique skeletal characteristics.

The bones were found along with fish and shark teeth in a 90 million-year-old sea bed, suggesting that the creature might have been ripped up by sharks after being washed into the sea.

Scientists have dubbed the new dinosaur Angolatitan adamastor. Angolatitan means “Angolan giant” and adamastor is a sea giant from Portuguese sailing myths, AP reported.

"I think they've been very careful," said sauropod expert Matthew F. Bonnan, referring to the team's discovery.

The finding can provide new information about how sauropods adapted to different environments, and it is "really cool" to see such research coming out of Angola, he added.

"The neat thing about dinosaur paleontology is that it's becoming more global," Bonnan said, adding that it was giving scientists a global perspective on the evolution of dinosaurs.

"The more people and places that we involve in science, the better off we all are.”

The new finding is the result of the PaleoAngola project which started in 2005 as the first systematic paleontological expedition in Angola since the early 1960s.

"Angola has had more than its share of civil war," said Dutch project member Anne Schulp of the Natuurhistorisch Museum Maastricht adding that although science hasn't been a priority in the African country, "Angola is catching up right now."

Scientists also say that monetary problems are the biggest barrier to research.

"We don't have problems with land mines, we don't have problems with safety" despite the country's troubled past, said PaleoAngola member Octavio Mateus of Portugal's Universidade Nova de Lisboa and Museum of Lourinha.

Mateus discovered Angolatitan adamastor in 2005. Excavations and research have been completed since then and a paper written for review by other scholars.

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