Fossil hunters discover two new dino species in Sahara desert

December 17th, 2008 - 2:52 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Dec 17 (ANI): An expedition to the Sahara desert has found the fossilized remains of what are thought to be two new species of dinosaurs.

According to a report in The Times, the ancient remains discovered in Morocco, belong to a giant flying pterosaur and plant-eating sauropod.

Initial examinations suggest that both specimens are unknown to science.

They were unearthed during a month-long quest during which the research team braved floods and storms to reach the dig site and then preserve the fossils.

The scientists even feared that they would never get the bones out of the desert because they were so heavy that their Land Rover became stuck in sand.

There was a point when we wondered if we would make it out of the desert with the (sauropod) bone, but we had worked so hard to find it there was no way I was leaving it behind. It took us five days to get the bone out of the ground and down the mountain, said Nizar Ibrahim, of University College Dublin, a leader of the project.

The first fossil is the beak of a pterosaur, a giant flying reptile that lived about 100 million years ago.

Such discoveries are unusual because pterosaur bones were light and fragile, to be adapted to flight, and few fossilised well.

Most pterosaur discoveries are just fragments of teeth and bone so it was thrilling to find a large part of a beak and this was enough to tell us we probably have a new species, said Ibrahim, a doctoral student.

The second significant discovery was a leg bone more than a meter long that belonged to an unknown species of sauropod the group of long-necked plant-eaters that includes the diplodocus.

The animal would have been almost 20m (65ft) long.

Plant eaters are uncommon in this deposit, extremely rare in this region and to find one this large is very exciting. Its a major discovery, Dr Martill said.

Finding two specimens in one expedition is remarkable, especially as both might well represent completely new species, Ibrahim said. (ANI)

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