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Paleontologists Uncover Oldest Identified Titanosaur | Paleontology

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Ninjatitan zapatai lived roughly 140 million years in the past (Early Cretaceous epoch) in what’s now Patagonia, Argentina.

Ninjatitan zapatai. Image credit: Jorge González.

Ninjatitan zapatai. Picture credit score: Jorge González.

Ninjatitan zapatai belongs to Titanosauria, a various group of sauropod (long-necked plant-eating) dinosaurs.

This group consists of species starting from the most important recognized terrestrial vertebrates to ‘dwarfs’ no greater than elephants.

“Throughout evolutionary historical past, sauropods had totally different moments, totally different pulses of gigantism, which weren’t solely associated to the group of titanosaurs,” said Dr. Pablo Ariel Gallina, a paleontologist on the Fundación Azara in Maimonides College and CONICET.

“There have been massive animals in direction of the top of the Jurassic interval, similar to Apatosaurus and Brachiosaurus. And, already within the line of titanosaurs, the heartbeat with the most important giants happens in direction of the center of the Cretaceous interval, with species similar to Patagotitan, Argentinosaurus or Notocolossus.”

Ninjatitan zapatai was about 20 m (66 ft) in size, and had a protracted neck and tail.

“The primary significance of Ninjatitan zapatai, past the truth that it’s a new species of titanosaur, is that it’s the earliest file worldwide for this group,” Dr. Gallina stated.

“This discovery can also be crucial for the information of the evolutionary historical past of sauropods, as a result of the fossil information of the Early Cretaceous epoch, in round 140 million years in the past, are actually very scarce all through the world.”

The 140-million-year-old postcranial stays of Ninjatitan zapatai have been found within the Bajada Colorada Formation in Neuquén province, Patagonia area, Argentina.

“The presence of a basal titanosaurian sauropod within the lowermost Cretaceous of Patagonia helps the speculation that the group was established within the southern hemisphere and reinforces the concept of a Gondwanan origin for Titanosauria,” the researchers stated.

The invention of Ninjatitan zapatai is described in a paper within the journal Ameghiniana.

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P.A. Gallina et al. 2021 The earliest recognized titanosaur sauropod dinosaur. Ameghiniana 58 (1): 35-51; doi: 10.5710/AMGH.20.08.2020.3376



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