New York: Scientists have discovered a new species of long-necked titanosaurian dinosaur in Tanzania that lived about 70 to 100 million years ago.
The new species named Shingopana songwensis is a member of the gigantic, long-necked sauropods. Its fossil was discovered in the Songwe region of the Great Rift Valley in southwestern Tanzania.
"There are anatomical features present only in Shingopana and in several South American titanosaurs, but not in other African titanosaurs," said Eric Gorscak, a paleontologist at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, US.
"Shingopana had siblings in South America, whereas other African titanosaurs were only distant cousins," Gorscak added.
The team conducted phylogenetic analyses to understand the evolutionary relationships of these and other titanosaurs.
They found that Shingopana was more closely related to titanosaurs of South America than to any of the other species currently known from Africa or elsewhere.
"This discovery suggests that the fauna of northern and southern Africa were very different in the Cretaceous Period," said Judy Skog, a programme director in National Science Fuundation in the US.
"At that time, southern Africa dinosaurs were more closely related to those in South America, and were more widespread than we knew," Skog added.
Shingopana roamed the Cretaceous landscape alongside Rukwatitan bisepultus, another titanosaur identified in 2014, researchers said.
Part of the Shingopana skeleton was excavated in 2002 by scientists affiliated with the Rukwa Rift Basin Project, an international effort led by Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine researchers Patrick O'Connor and Nancy Stevens.
The findings were published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.