Washington: Palaeotologists claim to have
discovered a new species of plant-eating dinosaur which lived
nearly 185 million years ago and may have been buried alive by
a collapsing sand dune.
A team at Utah University, led by by Joseph Sertich,
has found the preserved partial skeleton of the new species in
Utah`s red rocks, which confirms the widespread success of the
sauropodomorph dinosaurs during the Early Jurassic Period some
175 million to 200 million years ago.
The new species, named Seitaad ruessi, is part of
a group of dinosaurs known as sauropodomorphs who were found
across the globe during the Early Jurassic, when all of the
continents were still together in the supercontinent Pangaea.
Early sauropodomorphs, including Seitaad, had long
necks and tails with small heads and leaf-shaped teeth; these
same traits were carried on in their much larger descendents,
the sauropods, say the palaeontologists.
"Although Seitaad was preserved in a sand dune, this
ancient desert must have included wetter areas with enough
plants to support these smaller dinosaurs and other animals.
Just like in deserts today, life would have been difficult in
Utah`s ancient `sand sea`," Sertich said.
Added team member Mark Loewen: "We know from geologic
evidence that seasonal rainstorms like today`s summer monsoons
provided much of the moisture in this sand sea, filling ponds
and other low spots between the sand dunes."
Even though Seitaad was quite small, it was likely the
largest herbivore during this time period in southern Utah.
"This new find suggests that there may be more dinosaurs yet
to be discovered in these rocks," Sertich said.