Thursday, March 23, 2006

New Sauropod From Mongolia

Illustration by Jason Brougham

From National Geographic News:
Scientists say they have found the fossil of a new species of sauropod that had special air sacs in some of its bones to help support its massively long neck.
Living more than 100 million years ago in what is now Mongolia, the dinosaur had a 7.5-meter-long neck. The newly described species is named Erketu ellisoni. Erketu, the god of might, was one of 99 deities from pre-Buddhist Mongolian tradition.

Paleontologists Daniel T. Ksepka and Mark A. Norell of the American Museum of Natural History in New York discovered the fossil in Mongolia's Gobi desert in 2002. The partial fossil skeleton includes a single neck vertebra that measures nearly 0.6 meters in length.

This is bigger than the same vertebra found in fossils of Diplodocus —another, much larger four-legged sauropod that measured up to 27 meters in length.

Their analysis of the find is detailed in last week's issue of the museum's journal, Novitates.

Postings will continue sporatically over the next few days, depending on my access to the internet, and my recovery from emergency root canal surgery.