Thursday, March 24, 2005

New Sauropod Found In Patagonia


The remains of a new species of sauropod, christened "bonitasaura", were discovered in southern Argentina after scientists were led to them by a 98-year-old woman who had known of their existence since her childhood. She eventually led Sebastian Apesteguia and his team to a site in the semi-desert Patagonian steppes, where they recovered enough bones to reconstitute 70% of the animal's skeleton. The existence of the fossil beds in the region were known since the 1922 expedition of geologist Walter Shiller and palaeontologist Santiago Roth, but their precise location had been lost and remained unknown except to Dona Tica, who as a young girl had assisted the early expedition.

Christened "bonitasaura salgadoi", after the Bonita Mountains near the discovery site, the long-necked, plant-eating sauropod lived 83 million years ago in the Late Cretaceous period, and may have weighted up to 20 tons. Its unique characteristic is the sharp ridge which runs behind its teeth which allows it to sever tree branches without damaging its frontal teeth.