Student identifies enormous new dinosaur

Dec 12, 2007
Student identifies enormous new dinosaur
Carcharodontosaurus iguidensis racing a London bus. Photo by Simon Powell

The remains of one of the largest meat-eating dinosaurs ever found have recently been recognized as representing a new species by a student working at the University of Bristol.

The new species is one of the largest carnivorous dinosaurs ever to have lived. Carcharodontosaurus iguidensis was probably 13-14 metres long, making it taller than a double-decker bus. It had a skull about 1.75 metres long and its teeth were the size of bananas.

Steve Brusatte, an MSc student the University of Bristol who identified the theropod said: “The first remains of Carcharodontosaurus were found in the 1920s, but they only consisted of two teeth which have since been lost. Other bits of Carcharodontosaurus were found in Egypt and described in the 1930s, but these were destroyed when Munich was bombed in 1944. Since then a skull of Carcharodontosaurus saharicus turned up in the Moroccan Sahara, and was described a decade ago. So as you can see, evidence for this dinosaur is very rare.”

The new fossils come from a different part of Africa, the Republic of Niger, and show a number of differences from the Moroccan material, allowing Brusatte to name it as a new species: Carcharodontosaurus iguidensis.

The fossils include several pieces of the skull – parts of the snout, lower jaw, and braincase – as well as part of the neck. They are described in the current issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, published today.

This new discovery shows that a number of huge theropods – bipedal, carnivorous dinosaurs – were living in Africa 95 million years ago. Two other mega carnivores are known to have inhabited the same Saharan ecosystem at this time: Spinosaurus – a sail-backed creature which may have grown up to 18 metres in length, and the slightly smaller Abelisaurid theropods that were characterized by stocky hind limbs and extensive ornamentation of the skull bones. They only grew to about nine metres high.

Brusatte added: “The Cretaceous world of 95 million years ago was a time of some of the highest sea levels and warmest climates in Earth history. It seems that shallow seas divided Morocco and Niger, promoting evolutionary separation of the species living in the two regions.

“This has implications for the world today in which temperatures and sea level are rising. It is precisely by studying these sorts of ecosystems that we can hope to understand how our modern world may change.”

The fossils were found in Niger in 1997 on an expedition led by Paul Sereno from the Universtiy of Chicago, a co-author on the paper.

Source: University of Bristol

Explore further: T. rex gets new home in Smithsonian dinosaur hall

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Clippers and coiners in 16th-century England

Apr 14, 2014

In 2017 a new £1 coin will appear in our pockets with a design extremely difficult to forge. In the mid-16th century, Elizabeth I's government came up with a series of measures to deter "divers evil persons" ...

Serbia experts use heavy machinery to move mammoth

Apr 11, 2014

Serbian archaeologists on Friday used heavy machinery to move a female mammoth skeleton—believed to be one million years old—from an open mine pit where it was unearthed nearly five years ago.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Online reviews: When do negative opinions boost sales?

When purchasing items online, reading customer reviews is a convenient way to get a real-world account of other people's opinions of the product. According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, negative review ...

Tech giants look to skies to spread Internet

The shortest path to the Internet for some remote corners of the world may be through the skies. That is the message from US tech giants seeking to spread the online gospel to hard-to-reach regions.

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

(Phys.org) —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...

Wireless industry makes anti-theft commitment

A trade group for wireless providers said Tuesday that the biggest mobile device manufacturers and carriers will soon put anti-theft tools on the gadgets to try to deter rampant smartphone theft.