Egypt is known for its magnificent pyramids and powerful pharaohs, but now the country is gaining fame among paleontologists, especially now that an international team has uncovered the remains of an 80-million-year-old dinosaur the size of a school bus that had bony plates embedded in its skin during its lifetime.
Egyptian researchers discovered the newfound sauropod — a long-necked, long-tailed herbivorous dinosaur named Mansourasaurus shahinae — in the Sahara Desert. The find is remarkable, given the rarity of dinosaur fossils in Africa from the Late Cretaceous (100 million to 66 million years ago), the period of time just before the 6-mile-long (10 kilometers) asteroid slammed into Earth and killed the nonavian dinosaurs, the researchers said.
“Africa remains a giant question mark in terms of land-dwelling animals at the end of the age of dinosaurs,” study co-researcher Eric Gorscak, a postdoctoral research scientist at The Field Museum in Chicago, who started the project as a doctoral student at Ohio University, said in a statement. “Mansourasaurus helps us address long-standing questions about Africa’s fossil record and paleobiology — what animals were living there, and to what other species were these animals most closely related?” [See Images of the Egyptian Dinosaur]
His co-researcher, Matt Lamanna said his “jaw hit the floor,” when he saw photos of M. shahinae’s fossils. “This was the Holy Grail — a well-preserved dinosaur from the end of the age of dinosaurs in Africa — that we paleontologists had been searching for for a long, long time,” Lamanna, a paleontologist at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, in Pittsburgh, said in the statement.