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First dinosaur fossils dating back 72 mn years found in Saudi Arabia

Last Updated: Wednesday, January 8, 2014 - 15:22

Washington: An international team of scientists from have now uncovered the first record of dinosaurs from Saudi Arabia, which are exceptionally rare in the Arabian Peninsula.

A string of vertebrae from the tail of a huge "Brontosaurus-like" sauropod, together with some shed teeth from a carnivorous theropod represent the first formally identified dinosaur fossils from Saudi Arabia, and were found in the north-western part of the Kingdom along the coast of the Red Sea.

The remains were discovered during excavations conducted by a team of scientists working under the auspices of the Saudi Geological Survey, Jeddah.
"Dinosaur fossils are exceptionally rare in the Arabian Peninsula, with only a handful of highly fragmented bones documented this far" Dr Benjamin Kear, based at Uppsala University in Sweden and lead author of the study, said.

"This discovery is important not only because of where the remains were found, but also because of the fact that we can actually identify them. Indeed, these are the first taxonomically recognizable dinosaurs reported from the Arabian Peninsula" Dr Kear added.

The teeth and bones are approximately 72 million years old.
Two types of dinosaur were described from the assemblage, a bipedal meat-eating abelisaurid distantly related to Tyrannosaurus but only about six metres long, and a plant-eating titanosaur perhaps up to 20 metres in length.

Similar dinosaurs have been found in North Africa, Madagascar and as far away as South America.

The findings are published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.

First Published: Wednesday, January 8, 2014 - 15:22

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