Sahara yields second-largest dinosaur

Excavations near an Egyptian oasis have unearthed the bones of an animal that probably could rank as the second-most-massive dinosaur known.

Fossils found nearby indicate that the four-legged behemoth roamed through shallow mangrove swamps similar to those found today along the western edge of Florida’s Everglades.

The long-necked herbivore’s humerus-the bone that connects the animal’s shoulder to its front knee-was more than 51/2 feet long, says Joshua B. Smith, a paleontologist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. The new dinosaur, dubbed Paralititan stromeri, may have measured up to 100 feet long and weighed as much as 80 tons. That would make it second in weight only to Argentinosaurus, also a long-necked, four-legged herbivore.

Smith and his colleagues discovered the 90-million-year-old fossils at the Bahariya Oasis, about 200 miles southwest of Cairo. The species name, which translates as “Stromer’s tidal giant,” honors Ernst Stromer, a Bavarian geologist who unearthed a diverse group of fossils near the oasis in the early 20th century. Those fossils were largely destroyed when the Allies bombed Munich during World War II, Smith notes.

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