A bus-sized dinosaur is found in Egypt and it offers a clue to an ancient mystery

Scientists have discovered a new species of dinosaur -- and it's a big deal.First, let's talk size. The dino, ...

Posted: Jan 30, 2018 12:07 PM
Updated: Jan 30, 2018 12:07 PM

Scientists have discovered a new species of dinosaur -- and it's a big deal.

First, let's talk size. The dino, Mansourasaurus shahinae, was the length of a school bus and about as heavy as an elephant, weighting in at around five tons.

That makes it a part of a group of dinosaurs known as the Titanosauria, which includes the largest land animals known to science.

But what's even more remarkable about this discovery is what it says about the evolution of dinosaurs.

This species was found in Egypt. For more than 250 years, most dinosaur bones have been found in Europe, North America and Asia. Scientists haven't had much luck digging up and documenting fossils in Africa. And that means the course of dinosaur evolution there isn't well understood.

Enter the Mansourasaurus.

"When I first saw pics of the fossils, my jaw hit the floor," dinosaur paleontologist Matt Lamanna said in a statement from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

He's one of the coauthors of a paper published Monday in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution that names the new species.

"This was the Holy Grail -- a well-preserved dinosaur from the end of the Age of Dinosaurs in Africa -- that we paleontologists had been searching for for a long, long time."

Why it's noteworthy

Here's why this is remarkable:

At one point, the continents of the world were all connected as one supercontinent called Pangaea.

During the Cretaceous Period, the continents began splitting apart, eventually ending in the configuration we see today. Temporary land bridges connected them.

What scientists want to know is: when this happened, how cut off were the animals in Africa, and how were they evolving in their own tracks?

The Mansourasaurus sheds some light.

What it says

The fossilized remains were discovered in the Sahara by an expedition led by Hesham Sallam of the geology department at Egypt's Mansoura University.

The Mansourasaurus had a long neck, ate plants and had bony plates in its skin.

What Sallam's team determined is that the Mansourasaurus is closely related to the dinosaurs found in Europe and Asia rather than those in South America or even parts of southern Africa.

This meant that at least some dinos could move between Africa and Europe.

"Africa's last dinosaurs weren't completely isolated, contrary to what some have proposed in the past," Eric Gorscak, a contributing author on the study, said in the Carnegie Museum of Natural History statement.

"There were still connections to Europe."

What's next

Since so little is known about African dinosaurs, and this discovery is just one piece of the puzzle -- maybe even a corner piece, said Gorscak.

"It's like finding an edge piece that you use to help figure out what the picture is, that you can build from."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 34830

Reported Deaths: 2143
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion9900581
Lake3639190
Allen166269
Cass15877
Elkhart132228
St. Joseph128634
Hendricks117171
Hamilton116293
Johnson1115109
Madison59359
Porter54328
Bartholomew51535
Clark50541
LaPorte43824
Howard41528
Tippecanoe4143
Jackson3921
Delaware38539
Shelby37322
Hancock34027
Floyd31839
Boone31535
Vanderburgh2822
Morgan28024
Montgomery24517
Noble23721
White2378
Clinton2331
Decatur22431
Grant21323
Dubois1993
Harrison19422
Henry18411
Greene16925
Vigo1698
Dearborn16821
Warrick16628
Monroe16612
Lawrence16524
Kosciusko1501
Miami1401
Putnam1377
Jennings1304
Orange13022
Scott1203
Marshall1112
Franklin1108
Ripley1096
Carroll932
Daviess9216
Wayne855
LaGrange842
Steuben842
Wabash792
Fayette787
Newton7810
Jasper681
Jay530
Washington521
Clay511
Fulton491
Randolph483
Rush472
Pulaski460
Jefferson451
Whitley433
Starke393
DeKalb371
Sullivan361
Owen351
Perry330
Brown331
Wells320
Benton310
Huntington282
Knox280
Blackford262
Tipton251
Crawford240
Fountain212
Switzerland200
Spencer201
Parke180
Gibson172
Adams171
Posey160
Ohio130
Warren121
Martin110
Vermillion100
Union90
Pike60
Unassigned0167

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 121234

Reported Deaths: 5412
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook784953658
Lake8408292
DuPage7765374
Kane6404178
Will5613277
Winnebago229055
McHenry158572
St. Clair115282
Kankakee91548
Kendall80419
Rock Island66124
Champaign6457
Madison59460
Boone46317
DeKalb4184
Sangamon35029
Jackson28910
Randolph2694
Peoria2389
McLean22013
Ogle2113
Stephenson2092
Macon19419
Clinton18617
Union15511
LaSalle15313
Whiteside14213
Iroquois1324
Coles12715
Out of IL1181
Warren1170
Jefferson10116
Knox1010
Grundy992
Monroe9612
Unassigned930
McDonough8911
Lee811
Cass730
Tazewell735
Henry690
Williamson672
Pulaski560
Marion500
Jasper457
Macoupin452
Adams441
Perry410
Vermilion401
Montgomery391
Morgan361
Christian354
Livingston342
Jo Daviess320
Douglas280
Jersey241
Fayette213
Woodford212
Ford201
Menard200
Mason180
Washington180
Hancock170
Mercer170
Shelby161
Bureau151
Carroll152
Schuyler130
Bond121
Franklin120
Clark110
Crawford110
Fulton110
Logan110
Moultrie110
Piatt110
Brown100
Cumberland100
Johnson90
Wayne91
Alexander80
Henderson80
Effingham71
Massac70
Saline70
Greene50
Marshall50
Wabash50
De Witt40
Lawrence40
Richland30
Stark30
Clay20
Edwards20
Gallatin20
Hamilton20
White20
Calhoun10
Edgar10
Hardin10
Pike10
Pope10
Putnam10
Terre Haute
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 80°
Robinson
Clear
80° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 80°
Indianapolis
Few Clouds
78° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 79°
Rockville
Clear
78° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 79°
Casey
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 80°
Brazil
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 80°
Marshall
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 80°
Sunny and Hot!
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events