Newfound Dinosaur Species Suggests Egypt Is Hiding Groundbreaking Fossil Discoveries

Tuesday, 06 February 2018 - 10:25AM
Science News
Tuesday, 06 February 2018 - 10:25AM
Newfound Dinosaur Species Suggests Egypt Is Hiding Groundbreaking Fossil Discoveries
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Image credit: YouTube
The idea of digging in the deserts of Egypt to find hidden treasure is nothing new. Archeologists have been trying to uncover the mysteries of this corner of Africa for centuries, and there's a lot of fantastic stuff to be found that can inform our understanding of the lives of Egypt's ancient inhabitants.

Now, the remains of a far more ancient inhabitant of the country has been discovered: paleontologists for Mansoura University in the Nile Delta area of Egypt have uncovered something that's never been seen before—the newly named Mansourasaurus Shahinae, which takes its name both from the university itself, and one of the founders of the paleontology department at the college.

While there are still plenty of tests to be completed on the new fossil, the Mansourasaurus looks to be an undiscovered species of herbivore.

The Mansourasaurus looks like it's around 80 million years old, which would put it during the mid-Cretaceous period, several million years before the mass extinction event that killed off most species of dinosaur. If this dating proves accurate, this will be the first time that a specimen of this era has been found in Egypt.

While the Mansourasaurus looks unique, it does share a lot of attributes with fossils from the same time period that have been found across Europe, leading some experts to speculate about the possibility of some form of passage between the two areas back when they were part of the same large supercontinent of Pangaea.

Based on analysis of the fossil, it's believed that the Mansourasaurus probably had a long neck and tail, with a squat round body that was approximately the size of an elephant's torso. This, therefore, wasn't the largest of the dinosaurs (although we don't know how mature this fossil was at the time of its death), but it was still significant.

The hope, now, among paleontologists in the area, is that if the Mansourasaurus has been discovered intact in the Egyptian desert, it's entirely possible that more specimens from the time period might be hidden away somewhere in the sand, just waiting to be discovered after millions of years.

In the words of Hesham Sallam, head of Mansoura University's Center for Vertebrate Paleontology:

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"As in any ecosystem, if we went to the jungle we'll find a lion and a giraffe. So we found the giraffe, where's the lion?"
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According to Sallam, this discovery was made completely by accident. A team of doctoral and master's degree students was traveling to a nearby university to present a guest lecture, when they spotted a small, out of the way road that had some intriguing rock formations. The next day, the team returned to survey the area in greater detail, before they inadvertently stumbled upon fossilized bones under the sand.

So it stands to reason that a more in-depth investigation into the area might turn up additional fossils that are barely hidden in a remote part of the Egyptian desert.

We'll have to wait and see whether anyone will be able to find evidence of the big, carnivorous monster that Sallam is looking for. In the meantime, it's exciting to know that there are still plenty of dinosaurs left to be discovered, and some are just barely under the surface for anyone to stumble across - provided they're willing to wade out into the desert.
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