In addition to evidence of dinosaurs, Smith's team found a variety of other fossils at the Bahariya Oasis, including fish, turtles and crocodiles. The Paralititan bones represent a partial skeleton, including several vertebrae, dorsal ribs, both scapulae, both humeri, possible dermal armor and additional forelimb elements.
The Bahariya Oasis was the site of extensive paleontological research a century ago: German expeditions led by Ernst Stromer found bones from smaller dinosaurs and other ancient creatures at the site in the early 1900s, and Stromer wrote papers on his discoveries there between 1915 and 1936. But Stromer's trove of dinosaur artifacts from the Bahariya Oasis was lost when the Munich museum where it was housed was destroyed by Allied bombing in 1944. The Egyptian site remained largely forgotten by paleontologists until the Penn team began exploring the area in 1999.
"The rediscovery of the original Bahariya Oasis paleontological site has allowed a new glimpse into the age of dinosaurs in northern Africa," said Thomas R. Holtz, Jr., a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Maryland not involved with the Penn team. "Of obvious significance is the discovery of a truly gigantic sauropod dinosaur, closely related to but apparently distinct from the largest currently described dinosaur, Argentinosaurus. But beyond the dinosaurs and other animals, the work is significant in its study of the reconstruction of the environment as a whole. By combining evidence from the plant and animal fossils with a detailed study of the sedimentary rock type and its structures, they have been able to identify modern environments -- such as the Gulf Coast of Florida -- as a present-day analogue to this ancient community."
The seven-week Penn dig that uncovered Paralititan in January and February 2000 was funded primarily by Cosmos Studios, which seeks to engage t
Contact: Steve Bradt
University of Pennsylvania