Researchers said Monday that fossils are a species of dinosaur called Ninjatitan zapatai that lived in the Cretaceous period 140 million years ago. They identified Ninjatitana as a titanosaurus, a group of dinosaurs that fed on long-necked plants that walked on four pillar-like legs.
Incomplete remains of a dinosaur skeleton were discovered in the Patagonian desert in Argentina, south of Neuquén. Scientists claim that the ninjatitan showed that tetanosaurs as a group first appeared much longer than previously known.
“This is the oldest known record not only in Argentina, but in the whole world,” lead author Pablo Galena and a scientist with Argentina’s National Council for Scientific and Technical Research told Reuters.
“Titanosaurs have been recorded in various parts of the world, but the first known records are more recent of this discovery.”
The Ningatosaurus was about 20 meters long and was a large dinosaur, but much smaller than the later titanosaurs than the Argentinosaurus, which was about 35 meters long. The researchers also said that the presence of such an early titanosaurus in Patagonia supports the idea that titanosaurs originate in the southern hemisphere.
The Titanosaurs are part of a larger group of dinosaurs called sauropods, which include others with similar body designs, such as the brontosaurus and diploidux, who lived in North America during the pre-Cretaceous jury.
Many of the titanosaurs that inhabited Patagonia reached colossal proportions, such as the Argentinosaurs, the Patagots, and the Dreadnoughtus.
Jose Luis Carbadillo, another CONICET researcher, told a local university publication that the time of the Ninja Titan remains may lead one to believe that the bones belonged to a group of dinosaurs that preceded the tetanosaurs.
“In Patagonia, the Titanosaurus was known less than 120 million years ago,” he said.