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Newly Discovered African Titanosaurs Had a Stunning Heart-Shaped Tailbone



The artist's description of Mawawawuka in its natural setting.
Illustration: Mark Witton

Titanosaurs are the giant giants of four-foot behemoths stomped around the Cretaceous South America and Africa 100 million years ago. The discovery of a previously unknown titanosaur in Tanzania with a unique tailbone-shaped heart adds to our knowledge of mysterious animals, and how they lived and developed on the continent of Africa.

The name of the new titanosaur- Moyamawamtuka moyowamkia pronounced "Mm-nya-wah-mm-too-ka mm-oh-yo-wa-mm-key-ah" Mtuka's heart-shaped animal "Swahili, whose Mutka is a drenched river near the ravine along the East African Rift System in southwestern Tanzania where 100-million-year-old fossilized recovered bones. And as its name also implies, this Cretaceous creature has a unique tailbone-shaped shape of the heart, its function which is not immediately clear to the paleontologists.

Mnyamawamtuka was discovered in 2004, and it took four years for field paleontologists to complete the required digging job. Recovered body parts include backbones, shoulders, and legs, along with the lips of the neck, hip, tail, and arm. Sadly, the skull has not detected it. However, enough pieces were obtained to allow Eric Gorscak from Midwestern University and Patrick O & # 39; Connor from Ohio University to conduct a study and compare dinosaurs to similar specimens. The details of their findings are now published in PLoS ONE, 15 years after the fossils were first discovered.

The work team along the plateau wall in 2007, in the East African Rift System in Tanzania.
Photo: Anna Jerve

"The time it takes to discover, dig, study, and publish a new dinosaur is a lengthy process and requires many people-time to different stage, "Gorscak told Gizmodo. "A skeleton with many bones takes a lot of patience to prepare-such as removing any remaining stones attached to fossils and fixing any damage-and then studying what the animal this and how it relates to other dinosaurs. "

Other important dinosaurs The findings also resulted in timely assessment, including studies of Rukwatitan and Shingopana two other titanosaurs found in Tanzania. Due to the workload, Gorscak and O & # 39; Connor have had to plan their priorities for their research focus.

"Also, I would say one of the most overlooked factors is, well, life itself," added Gorscak. "We paleontologists are also alive, it's not just 24/7 fossils for us-but close!"

Descriptions of recovered bones, including heart-shaped tailbones.
Photo: Mark Witton

Mnyamawamtuka The plot belongs to a small individual titanosaur, probably a youth who has not yet grown up. An average person is almost the height of his thigh legs, and it weighed about a ton.

The distinctive features of Mnyamawamtuka include a small sternal plate (bones of the breast), and a peculiar mix of features seen both the earlier and the latter species of titanosaurs, including Different dental styles. And as such, the huge sauropod has a tailbone-shaped heart, consisting of two tail vertebrae with impressive extensions to the centrum (the middle part of the vertebrae).

"We're not very sure of their functional significance," Gorscak said. "It may be something related to stability between the back bone or a brace type for the spinal cord."

Other closely related titanosaurs, including Malawisaurus from neighboring Malawi, are also known to have expanded, but to a lesser extent, Gorscak said.

Mnyamawamtuka lived with a floodplain or delta river experiencing wet and dry weather, according to relevant geological research. The animals that live alongside them include other four legs, long neck sauropods, carnivorous theropod dinosaurs, turtles, and relatives of the crocodiles today.

Titanosaurs are often associated with fossils found in South America, but as discovery and others to show, the African landscape is an integral part of their story as well.

"A large part of what we know about the history of the evolution of titanosaurs is that of many species known from South America. But in the early half of the Cretaceous, Africa and South America are still connected before they are divided into the middle half of the Cretaceous, "says Gorscak. "What we see is recent discoveries from Africa, such as Rukwatitan Mansourasaurus Shingopana and today Mnyamawamtuka are the titanosaurs are likely to differ as equals their South American and can have a rough division between the northern and southern half of Africa. "

Stephen Poropat, a paleontologist from Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, involved in the new work, said the importance of Mawawawuka specimen lies in its completeness, with its age and geographic location.

"Having many bones, representing most parts of the body, from one individual is remarkable," Poropat told Gizmodo. "This means that Mnyamawamtuka can prove that one of the most important African titanosaurs discovered to date, because it can help us to understand where this and other African titanosaurs fit into the family tree titanosaur .

In fact, this discovery, along with those in the future, will help scientists better understand how these wonderful animals have evolved in response to the ever-changing environment- and why the size really looks like, [matter9090] really important.

[PLOS ONE]


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