PHILADELPHIA -- University of Pennsylvania researchers have unearthed a new genus of gargantuan dinosaur in a corner of Egypt that paleontologists had all but ignored since World War II, when earlier finds stored in German museums were blasted from existence by Allied warplanes. In the June 1 issue of Science, the Penn team reports on its discovery of Paralititan stromeri, one of the most massive animals ever to walk the earth, and presents evidence that the quadruped walked in ancient mangrove swamps in what is now the Sahara Desert.
A 67-inch humerus found by the Penn team suggests that the newfound creature is very close to the size of Argentinosaurus, currently the largest dinosaur known to man. Lead author Joshua B. Smith, a doctoral student in earth and environmental science at Penn and the discoverer of Paralititan, estimates that the giant four-legged beast may have measured 80 to 100 feet long and weighed 60 to 70 tons.
As a huge dinosaur that was apparently traipsing through an ancient mangrove forest, Paralititan breaks significant new ground for paleontologists. "While now arid, the Bahariya Oasis some 180 miles southwest of Cairo, where we found the dinosaur, was apparently more like the Florida Everglades during the Late Cretaceous Period," Smith said.
Based upon the telltale types of rock in which the bones were found -- largely sandstone and organic-rich mudstone showing clear evidence of weak wave action -- Smith's team deduced that the herbivore was standing on the edge of a tidal channel in very shallow water when it perished 94 million years ago.
"The discovery of a huge sauropod, especially in a near-shore environment, is of great interest," said Hans-Dieter Sues of the University of Toronto and Royal Ontario Museum, who was not involved in this research. "The Egyptian material represents a fauna that is widely found across North Africa, all the way to Morocco in the west, but it documents the dinosaurs much better th
Contact: Steve Bradt
University of Pennsylvania