Scientists discover Valentine’s Day dinosaur with heart-shaped tailbones. Here’s why it matters
Feb 14, 2019
Researchers recently discovered a new dinosaur that, well, has tailbones that resembled the shape of a heart.
What it says: A new study from researchers at Ohio University suggests the new dinosaur may also offer clues about how ecosystems changed in Africa over time.
- The dinosaur — called the Mnyamawamtuka moyowamkia, or “beast of the Mtuka” and “heart of the tail,” in Swahili — is “a unique species and provides new insights into sauropod evolution,” according to the study.
- Sauropods were once the largest land animals on the planet. Popular types of sauropods include the diplodocus and the Brontosaurus.
- The new dinosaur was likely a member of long-necked titanosaur sauropods, which were widespread throughout the world.
Why it matters: The study suggests the new discovery will offer clues of the dinosaur’s early days, which could offer clues to how Africa has changed throughout the years, USA Today reports.
- Titanosaurs specifically were widespread throughout the planet, which has made it hard for scientists to uncover bones so they could learn about the dinosaurs’ ecosystem and habits, Express reported.
- “Although titanosaurs became one of the most successful dinosaur groups before the infamous mass extinction capping the Age of Dinosaurs, their early evolutionary history remains obscure, and Mnyamawamtuka helps tell those beginnings, especially for their African side of the story,” study co-author Eric Gorscak of Midwestern University told USA Today.
Judy Skog, who works for the National Science Foundation, said in a statement that the discovery will help understand evolutionary changes, too.
- She said “this new dinosaur gives us important information about African fauna during a time of evolutionary change. … It’s also timely information about an animal with heart-shaped tailbones during this week of Valentine’s Day.”