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Russian paleontologists discover new dinosaur species

Paleontologists from Russia have found seven vertebrae buried in the ground near the Volga river which they say belong to a previously undiscovered dinosaur species. Arches in the vertebrae show that the bones belonged to an adult dinosaur. The fossils seem to be around 130 million years old.

The newly discovered species has been named, the Volgatitan. It has been hypothesised that it weighed 17 tons when mature.

This new dinosaur belongs to the subgroup, sauropods, which are four-legged herbivorous giants with long necks. Other, better known species of sauropods include the Diplodocus and Brontosaurus.

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The  discovery of the Volgatitan brings the number of Russian dinosaur species discovered so far to 12. Three of these are sauropods.

Evidence that pointed to the possible existence of this species was first discovered in 1982, when paleontologist Vladimir Efimov discovered three large vertebrae that had fallen from a high cliff. Later, in the 1980’s, three nodules of limestone fell off, which contained the remaining vertebrae. He had then termed the unusual finds “giant vertebrae of unknown taxonomic affiliation.”

In 1997, Efimov published a preliminary note about this find in the Paleontological Journal, referring to the vertebrae as a sauropod of the Brachiosauridae family.

According to Aleksandr Averianov, a professor at St. Petersburg University, the description of dinosaur taxa in recent years has become possible due to the progress in understanding the anatomy and phylogeny of dinosaurs. The researchers were also able to learn more about how Sauropods had lived and developed.

“Previously, it was believed that the evolution of titanosaurs took place mainly in South America with some taxa moving into North America, Europe and Asia only in the Late Cretaceous,” Averianov said in a statement. “In Asia, representatives of a broader group of titanosauriform, such as the recently described Siberian titanium, dominated in the early Cretaceous.