February 25, 2021 report
First rebbachisaurid dinosaur remains found in Asia
A pair of researchers with the Russian Academy of Sciences and the National Museum of Natural History in the U.S., respectively, has respectively, uncovered the first known example of a rebbachisaurid dinosaur to be found in Asia. Alexander Averianov and Hans-Dieter Sues have written a paper describing their find and where they believe it fits into the dinosaur ancestral tree. It is available on the open access site PLOS ONE.
Prior to the new discovery, rebbachisaurid dinosaurs had only been found in North America, North Africa and Europe. They were sauropods, a group that includes the largest of the dinosaurs. The new finding by Averianov and Sues represents both a new genus and a new species—and it was likely a cousin of Diplodocus, the largest of the big dinosaurs. The pair have named it Dzharatitanis kingi. The find consisted of a single tail bone—it was found at the Bissekty Formation in a section of the Kyzyl Kum Desert in Uzbekistan. Prior research has suggested the area was likely a coastal plane during the time of the dinosaurs and was likely one of the westernmost parts of Asia.
Examination of the bone identified it as a sauropod, which meant it would have had a very long neck, allowing the herbivore to reach up into the trees to feed; a long tail, a small head and a big body held up by massive legs. It also would have had very long, sharp teeth. The size of the bone suggested the dinosaur was likely between 15 and 20 meters tall. And dating showed it to be approximately 90 million years old, representing one of the most recent rebbachisaurids found to date.
Finding evidence of rebbachisaurids in Asia adds more to the puzzle of where such dinosaurs lived during the Cretaceous—a time when Europe was thought to be little more than a group of islands and when Asia and North America were still connected. The researchers suggest D. kingi could very well represent a hub of sorts, as dinosaurs of all shapes and sizes moved around the area.
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