Well that’s a big deal! A bus-sized dinosaur has been found by paleontologists in Egypt and it offers a clue to an ancient mystery. The dino, Mansourasaurus shahinae, was the length of a school bus and about as heavy as an elephant, weighting in at around five tons. That makes it a part of a group of dinosaurs known as the Titanosauria, which includes the largest land animals known to science.

new dinosaur found in egypt solves ancient mystery, Mansourasaurus shahinae
The new dinosaur Mansourasaurus shahinae discovered in Egypt, Africa. Image by Andrew McAfee, Carnegie Museum of Natural History)

But something is even more remarkable

This species was found in Egypt. For more than 250 years, most dinosaur bones have been found in Europe, North America and Asia. Scientists haven’t had much luck digging up and documenting fossils in Africa. And that means the course of dinosaur evolution there isn’t well understood.

new dinosaur found in egypt solves ancient mystery, Mansourasaurus shahinae
The fossilized remains of the dinosaur’s jaw. Image by Hesham Sallam, Mansoura University)

And what does it mean?

At one point, the continents of the world were all connected as one supercontinent called Pangaea. During the Cretaceous Period, the continents began splitting apart, eventually ending in the configuration we see today. Temporary land bridges connected them.
What scientists want to know is: when this happened, how cut off were the animals in Africa, and how were they evolving in their own tracks?

The Mansourasaurus sheds some light

The fossilized remains were discovered in the Sahara by an expedition led by Hesham Sallam of the geology department at Egypt’s Mansoura University. The Mansourasaurus had a long neck, ate plants and had bony plates in its skin.

new dinosaur found in egypt solves ancient mystery, Mansourasaurus shahinae
Mansourasaurus skeletal reconstruction Image by McAfee, Carnegie MNH

What Sallam’s team determined is that the Mansourasaurus is closely related to the dinosaurs found in Europe and Asia rather than those in South America or even parts of southern Africa.

This mean that at least some dinos could move between Africa and Europe. Africa’s last dinosaurs weren’t completely isolated, contrary to what some have proposed in the past. There were still connections to Europe.

new dinosaur found in egypt solves ancient mystery, Mansourasaurus shahinae
The all-Egyptian field team from the Mansoura University Vertebrate Paleontology initiative that found and collected the new titanosaur. Image by Mansoura University

The new dinosaur Mansourasaurus shows that there are still many surprises left to discover in human’s quest to understand Earth’s history and how that history shaped our modern world.

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Nature, CNN, Gizmodo

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