Paleontologists of St. Petersburg and Tomsk State Universities have described a previously unknown to science species of ancient lizards, which lived on Earth 120 million years ago.
As the press service of the St. Petersburg State University informs, the scientists named the new Russian dinosaur Sibirotitan (Sibirotitan astrosacralis) for its large size and special structure of bones.
“The animal became the second sauropod, which received a scientific name in Russia, as well as one of the oldest titanosaur forms found in Asia,” the report said.
The scientists were helped to describe teeth, vertebrae and sacrum about half a meter long, found in different years near the village of Shestakovo, Kemerovo region, at one of the most famous Russian sites of dinosaurs. To get fossils, paleontologists had to literally pound them out of the hard sandstone of the Shestakovsky Yar on the banks of the Kiya River.
“The difficulty was that the required geological layer was in the middle of a steep cliff, so scientists worked with climbing equipment at a height of about four meters,” the press service said.
Sibirotitan belongs to the group of giant dinosaurs, which are called sauropods. As the researchers note, he was not the largest representative of his group: he had a massive long tail and an elongated neck, weighed about 10 tons, and his length from the head to the tip of the tail was about 12 m. He fed four-legged siberotitanium with plants and because of the impressive size of the seldom was attacked by predators.
Currently, fossils are stored in the Tomsk State University.
The researchers suggest that under the multi-ton rock at the Kiya River, a whole skeleton of siberotitanium is hidden, because the site of the excavation brings finds almost every year.
“However, it is almost impossible to extract it from the sandstone, so scientists have to collect for years the skeleton of a unique sauropod,” the press service said.
According to Pavel Skukas, an associate professor of St. Petersburg State University who took part in the research, finds of such titanosaurs as sibirototan or tengrizaur make us think about the origin of this group of ancient lizards.
“It used to be that titanosaurs originated in the early Cretaceous of South America (about 145 million years ago.) Current data suggests that they first appeared in Asia,” the scientist’s press service quoted.
The fossils of the first Russian titanosaur, tengrisaur, were found in the 1990s. But the three vertebrae found then were described only last year.